China, 1700s. The Consorts is a novella, written as a prequel to The Fragrant Concubine. Set a few years earlier, it tells the story of Lady Qing, who has spent the past seven years languishing inside the high red walls of the Forbidden City. Classed as an Honoured Lady, a lowly-ranked concubine, Qing is neglected by the Emperor, passed over for more ambitious women. But when a new concubine, Lady Ying, arrives, Qing’s world is turned upside down. As the highest position at court becomes available and every woman fights for status, Qing finds love for the first time in her life… if Lady Ula Nara, the most ambitious woman at court, will allow her a taste of happiness.
Melissa Addey meticulously evokes a strange, beautiful and harsh society.
Emma Darwin, award-winning author of The Mathematics of Love and A Secret Alchemy.