Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope your week is going great. Otherwise, I hope that it will start looking up in the coming days. It is my fervent hope that it will usher in positive energy, blessings, healing, and forgiveness for everyone. As it is Tuesday, it is also time for a Top 5 Tuesday update. Top 5 Tuesday was originally created by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm but is now currently being hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads.
his week’s topic: Top 5 Books with Crowns
I tried looking for books I have read or that I own with a crown on the cover. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one. However, I still wanted to participate in this week’s prompt, hence, I modified it a little. I am featuring five books that feature members of royal and imperial families, both fictional and real. After all, royal and imperial families do pique my interest. Moreover, I love reading works of historical fiction. It does not deviate much from this week’s main subject (haha) so I am giving it a go. Happy reading everyone!
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
As I have mentioned, I love works of historical fiction, which was one of the reasons why I loved Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid, a book I read over two years ago. It featured the story of the last Chinese monarch who held residence in Beijing’s grandiose Forbidden City, Empress Dowager Cixi. I already encountered Empress Dowager’s name when I was younger as I was browsing through encyclopedias. The story centered around the Empress’ long and arduous journey toward the pinnacle of the Qing imperial family, starting with the painful journey from the Chinese countryside to Beijing to her being selected as one of the Emperor’s consorts. I loved the intricate details of history, including the process of selecting an Empress and the Forbidden City itself. Anchee Min wrote a vivid account of The Empress Dowager’s story and her character, both what I imagined and what I had not imagined. I enjoyed the exploration of this part of Chinese history, the prelude to the downfall of the empire.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A discourse on monarchies and royal/imperial families will not be complete without the Russian monarchy. Several books have been written about its members, including Danielle Steel’s Zoya and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. American writer Amor Towles also gave his own take in his second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow. Like Zoya, the story took place post-ouster of the Romanovs. Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov was born to an affluent family but his forbearance did little to protect him from the Bolshevik tribunal. He was on the brink of being executed had a “revolutionary” poem not been attributed to him. Rather than execution, he was sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest at the Hotel Metropol. How the mighty have fallen, one might think. But Count Rostov understood better. Despite his tenuous position, he stayed true to his nature and gracefully embraced his new life. What unfolded was an endearing story that kept the readers riveted.
Circe by Madeline Miller
From China to Russia, the third book on this post is set in a fictional world. Who has not heard of Circe? The woman who bewitched Odysseus, one of the most popular characters in Greek mythology? A minor goddess, Circe is the daughter of the god of sun Helios. However, she possessed neither her father’s endless power nor her mother’s alluring beauty, thus, she was often frowned upon by both of her parents. The polar opposite of Odysseus, Circe is one of the most vilified characters in literature. However, Miller provided the readers a story of a relatable woman and mother who only wanted to protect her son. Sure, the novel barely did anything to move Circe’s story forward, but it did more than enough to bring forth a more “human” version of Circe by filling the story with tender moments. Circe’s voice lingers, and so does her story; it was more human and less villain.
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
I do realize that Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a rather unconventional choice. First off, the story revolves around Allan Karlsson, who, on his 100th birthday, escaped from the old people’s home he was staying in, thus, the book’s (lengthy) title. It is actually funny, the initial premise. On the surface, the humor was what made the narrative work. However, beyond the slapstick comedy and the absurdities, one can make out some universal realities that range from political to social. The general mood of the narrative was light. In spite of this seemingly light atmosphere, the narrative is doused with dark humor, and, to some extent, satire. We read of Karlsson’s adventures and his encounters with prominent historical figures such as Czar Nicholas II, Albert Einstein, and Kim Jong Il.
Zoya by Danielle Steel
Ever since I have been in high school, my curiosity and interest in the Romanovs have been running high. I guess the movie Anastasia was one of the reasons for this, apart from the fact that I like reading about royalties and empires. When I read Zoya, I was transported into a different world. What Steel painted was a world of opulence which was soon, unfortunately, altered by the turbulent twilight years of the Romanov dynasty. I must say, Steel is in her element when she writes about royalties. The story was, somehow, reminiscent of the story of Anastasia, one of the Romanov children long believed to have escaped her family’s persecution.