Reading progress update: I've read 123 out of 376 pages.

Imperial Woman - Pearl S. Buck

Interesting. The Bombardment of Canton during the Second Opium War plays a relatively prominent part in this story about Empress Cixi, and yet, the reasons for the Opium War, especially the second one, are left out completely and are replaced with a highly romanticised refusal of Lord Elgin (son of the Elgin of the Marbles) to kowtow to the Viceroy. 

 

Part of me thinks this is a missed opportunity, part of me admires Buck's choice to focus the story almost entirely on the goings on at Cixi's court.