Two Years in the Forbidden City

Read by Jc Guan

(4.6 stars; 76 reviews)

THE author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and progressive Chinese officials of his generation. she became First Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Dowager, and while serving at the Court in that capacity she received the impressions which provide the subject-matter of this book. Her opportunity to observe and estimate the characteristics of the remarkable woman who ruled China for so long was unique, and her narrative throws a new light on one of the most extraordinary personalities of modern times. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of friends, she consented to put some of her experiences into literary form, and the following chronicle, in which the most famous of Chinese women, the customs and atmosphere of her Court are portrayed by an intimate of the same race, is a result. (Summary adapted from the Foreword) (9 hr 35 min)


Foreword 3:32 Read by Jc Guan
Introductory 15:34 Read by Jc Guan
At The Palace 17:26 Read by Jc Guan
A Play at the Court 22:11 Read by Jc Guan
A Luncheon with the Empress 12:15 Read by Jc Guan
An Audience with the Empress 10:09 Read by Jc Guan
In Attendance on Her Majesty 26:00 Read by Jc Guan
Some Incidents of the Court 30:26 Read by Jc Guan
The Court Ladies 24:40 Read by Jc Guan
The Emperor Kwang Hsu 31:57 Read by Jc Guan
The Young Empress 36:05 Read by Jc Guan
Our Costumes 24:55 Read by Jc Guan
The Empress and Mrs. Conger 46:20 Read by Jc Guan
The Empress's Portrait, part 1 26:46 Read by Jc Guan
The Empress's Portrait, part 2 29:41 Read by Jc Guan
The Emperor's Birthday 43:24 Read by Jc Guan
The Mid-Autumn Festival 28:00 Read by Jc Guan
The Summer Palace 35:46 Read by Jc Guan
The Audience Hall 24:15 Read by Jc Guan
The New Year Festivals 25:36 Read by Jc Guan
The Sea Palace 28:43 Read by Jc Guan
Conclusion 31:37 Read by Jc Guan


Absolutely Perfect

(5 stars)

This text is on if my favourites on Librivox, and one I return to time and time again. The reader is wonderful, and the subject matter - being in the Court of Cixi mere months after the apocalypse of the Boxer Rebellion, surrounded by ladies from the Foreign Legations - ladies who were quite well guarded, understandably so. Der Ling's narrative provides an invaluable account of a time lost to history. It's especially interesting to listen to this in addition to The Last Days of Pekin (also on Librivox), which is a narrative of a french officer engaged in the International response to the Boxer Uprising. Truly one of the best books on Librivox and highly recommend. There is also the recollections of Catherine Karl, the portrait painter, who recounted her time painting Cixi, which can be found here on Librivox. There are also multiple early photographs of Cixi during Der Ling's visit, which can be found using Google.

A lost classic, hauntingly narrated

(5 stars)

Once again a LibriVox reader give new life to a lost piece of literature. Beautifully read first person account of a French-educated Chinese woman at the court of the Chinese dowager empress in 1905. The reader's accent is appropriate to the work and it's easy to imagine that she really is the Princess! I was entirely captivated by this autobiographical account of modern sensibility and ancient tradition. Thank you JC. This must have been a HUGE amount of work to record and edit. Suffice to say it was time well spent. TheBookWorm (Manchester, UK)

Very interesting insight into the Qing dynasty

(4 stars)

The Empress Dowager Cixi wielded power of the Qing dynasty in its final years. This is a very interesting first hand look at the life of the Empress and her court. In a way, I wish that I had listened to this before visiting the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, but I look forward to returning to Beijing again someday and seeing these sites through Princess Der Ling's eyes. The book is very well read by JC Guan.

Enjoyed it very much.

(5 stars)

I have enjoyed listening to this account of Chinese history. It is interesting to learn about the dowager from a different perspective. This account makes the formidable regent almost kind: a quality that I wasn't expected from her. The reader read very well and makes the account enjoyable to listen to.

Snowed in Again

(5 stars)

I can only echo others comment: fascinating first hand account of life with the Dowager Empress, perfectly and beautifully read by Jc. I will be searching for more information on the author and looking forward to other selections read by Jc

Very interesting

(4 stars)

An interesting book about a time and place long ago and far away and gone with the wind. It is excellently and appropriately read. Nothing much happens, though, so it does get a trifle tiresome.

First audiobook

(5 stars)

First audiobook I ever listened to. Very fascinating perspective on a historical figure. JC did a wonderful job reading it, with perfect speed and tonality for the subject matter.

Brilliant. wonderfully read and produced. I

(5 stars)

Ms. Guan brought the book to life helped me to absorb the entire experience of being back at the Ching court during it's last days.