Haunted – Annabelle – Short fiction by Nancy Christie

Annabelle-cover4 (1)

This is a deeply touching story … a journey into the tormented soul of a young woman who has lost her way amidst her dreams and nightmares. Beautifully evoked by Nancy Christie, it is a tale that will haunt you.

Annabelle wants to be loved, to be special. She desperately need to be important to somebody, to a father so self-involved he never knew she was there. And a mother, too obsessed with her father and his art to pay more than passing attention to her daughter.

It’s a memorable journey through a young woman’s mind, a strange road on which memory, guilt, and wishful thinking mix, leaving Annabelle lost in an unreality between here and who knows where.

From the publisher:

Pixel Hall Press has rolled out its new PHP Shorts eBook imprint with the publication of “Annabelle” by Nancy Christie. The story paints a lyrical portrait of a young woman, daughter of a painter and his devoted model.

“Annabelle” will be sold on most online bookstores, in every eBook format.

About Nancy Christie:

I am a writer both by trade (magazine articles and corporate projects – see my site’s About Me section for more details) and by preference.

Although I enjoy “business writing,” my passion is for fiction. Long fiction, short fiction, bits and pieces of fiction (character sketches, dialogue)–any kind of “make believe” writing that takes me from my reality into my characters’ reality. I’ve been fortunate to have several pieces published in literary journals, and with the September 2013 release of Annabelle, my first e-book (published by Pixel Hall Press), I have moved even further on my path to achieving some measure of recognition for my fiction.

As for what writers have inspired me, some of my favorites include Agatha Christie, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Mark Helprin, Carolyn See, Elizabeth George–a mixed bag, to be sure, and just a few of those with whom I “keep company.”

I write, I read, I write some more and so it goes …

Tzu Hsi – The Last Empress and the Rape of China

Imperial Woman: The Story of the Last Empress of China, by Pearl Buck

456 pages – Open Road Media (On Kindle – May 21, 2013)

This is the story of Tzu Hsi, a woman who rose from obscurity to rule first as regent to her son, the boy emperor, then ultimately as the last Empress of China from 1861 to 1908. Her death heralded the end of the old China. The empire collapsed only three years after her death, in 1911.

First chosen as one of many concubines to the young emperor – no more than a child himself – she manipulates herself into position as his favorite, cultivates his favor until he depends on her completely. Still in love with her childhood sweetheart, a single night of love produces a son, the next emperor.

Intelligent, highly (self) educated Tzu Hsi makes herself essential to her debauched, physically weakened, opium-addicted husband. His early death leaves her regent to her son. She is forced to preside over the destruction of Chinese culture. Her fight against white imperialism is hopeless. As the representative of the last Dynasty, she tries to find her way while the China she has known is assaulted by wave after wave of western imperialist pirates under the guise of missionaries, traders, and ambassadors.

Once the rape of China begins, she is powerless to stop it. Even the rare victory is no more than a holding action. Despite all evidence, she cannot believe China can lose to these invaders and she never loses her unyielding belief in the superiority of Chinese culture … the ultimate irony given the unyielding belief of the Western powers of their superiority. The unstoppable force meets the immoveable object and the result is – as might be expected – tragic.

In a way, she was more right than she knew. The old China collapsed but from its ashes, the new China has gained more power than the old ever had.

A Western Portrait of China's Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi

There are a number of ways to read this book. It’s a brilliant, detailed picture of a vanished civilization … beautiful and to modern minds, bizarre. And, it’s the story of Tzu Hsi, her life, her deeply flawed, complex personality. Her bad decisions based on the logic of a world already gone to which the rules no longer applied.

You can also read Imperial Woman as a much larger story, how the western nations took the oldest culture on earth and destroyed it so we could plunder it for opium.

How we destroyed thousands of years of art and cultural treasures so each country from the west — who had no right to any of China — treated the Chinese people as if they were the barbarians because they did not want to become just like us.

The European powers with the help of the United States transformed China into a monster. Then we have the gall to complain we don’t like the way it turned out. China would never have become what it is today or taken the path it did without the brutality and devastation wrought by European imperialism. And of course, look what opium and all that has followed in its wake has done to improve our society? Karma is a nasty bitch.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Pearl Buck

Written in 1956, the story is probably more relevant today, 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent to the transformation of Communist China into the world’s biggest, baddest economic superpower. On many levels, for a lot of different reasons, it serves us right. We destroyed China. Now, in its own way, China is destroying us. One good turn deserves another.

I read Imperial Woman not long after it first came out. I was in my early teens and it was just a story. I read it as an interesting, even fascinating story. But at the time, it meant no more than that.

Reading it now meant a lot more to me not only because of the changes in my perspective, knowledge and interest in China’s history … but because the world has so greatly changed.

Imperial Woman was written at the peak of the Communist witch hunts in the U.S. and the hottest part of the Cold War. The world in which we live today is entirely different. If you have a reasonable knowledge of history, a sense of destiny and fundamental belief in Karma, you will find Imperial Woman contains many layers of meaning. It’s elegantly written, not even slightly dated.

Imperial Woman was available (as of May 21, 2013) on Kindle. It’s also available on Audible.com and as a paperback. It’s probably available at your local library too. It’s a classic, doubly so today.