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The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
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The Commoner

by John Burnham Schwartz

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5643317,647 (3.55)29
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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
About the first 40? pages (anything before the post-war era) were kind of extraneous storytelling. Even while reading, they just felt like placeholders, and like I was waiting for the book to really get going.

Once it got moving, though, it was an interesting and engaging story--part love story, and part tale of a woman's search for independence. 3.5 stars. ( )
  fefferbooks | May 12, 2014 |
My blog post about this book is at this link . ( )
  SuziQoregon | Mar 31, 2013 |
I didn't love nor hate this book. It was a good book. As a member of my book club stated last night it is a good book just not memorable. I agree. I enjoyed reading the book but I was not so enthralled that I couldn't put it down.

This is a work of fiction loosely based on the Japanese Crown Prince after WW2. It was nice to learn about the lifestyle of the Crown Prince and how he falls in love with a Commoner. This story is told from the eyes of Haruko who is the Commoner that the Crown Prince falls in love with.

I found the tone at times very depressing. That is why it was easy for me to put the book down. I wasn't captured by the writing. Learning the differences in their lives as I read the book does make you think about how being of different backgrounds can put strain on a marriage and hopefully make you grow as a person. ( )
  crazy4reading | Feb 21, 2013 |
Beautifully written novel that follows the heartbreaks of a Japanese commoner who marries the Crown Prince. Stark view of the role of royalty. This one would make a perfect reading group choice. ( )
  ken1952 | Nov 3, 2011 |
Late 50's, Japanese crown prince marries a commoner (Haruko), first in 2,000 year monarchy. Treated shamefully by M-I-L, has a son, gets depressed and goes about 6 months without uttering a word. Finally, "adjusts" to life, has a daughter, does her duty as Princess when her husband assumes throne she is about 50. Always missed her commoner life; yet, son falls in love with a commoner and she is instrumental in getting the girl to agree to marry him, though she had same doubts as Haruko had. Though Haruko was very kind to her, she, too, suffered a breakdown after birth of daughter, only child, and fled to her parents. Haruko went to visit her and toward the end of the visit she finally realized/remembered her own past and told the woman that she and the child must leave Japan and never return to save their souls. They did so immediately with the help of Haruko's trusted confidante and driver and a friend of both Haruko and the young woman. The friend was an old schoolmate of Haruko's and the girl's godmother, very well off and living in US. She sent a private plane for them to leave the country. The book ends with Haruko receiving a note from her friend that they were safe.
  bogopea | Feb 19, 2011 |
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For Aleksandra & Garrick and in memory of David Halberstam
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When I was a girl, my father told me the story of two cranes who set out to fly across the world together to fulfill their destinies.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385515715, Hardcover)

It is 1959 when Haruko, a young woman of good family, marries the Crown Prince of Japan, the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She is the first non-aristocratic woman to enter the longest-running, almost hermetically sealed, and mysterious monarchy in the world. Met with cruelty and suspicion by the Empress and her minions, Haruko is controlled at every turn. The only interest the court has in her is her ability to produce an heir. After finally giving birth to a son, Haruko suffers a nervous breakdown and loses her voice. However, determined not to be crushed by the imperial bureaucrats, she perseveres. Thirty years later, now Empress herself, she plays a crucial role in persuading another young woman—a rising star in the foreign ministry—to accept the marriage proposal of her son, the Crown Prince. The consequences are tragic and dramatic.

Told in the voice of Haruko, meticulously researched and superbly imagined, The Commoner is the mesmerizing, moving, and surprising story of a brutally rarified and controlled existence at once hidden and exposed, and of a complex relationship between two isolated women who, despite being visible to all, are truly understood only by each other. With the unerring skill of a master storyteller, John Burnham Schwartz has written his finest novel yet.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"It is 1959 when Haruko, a young woman of good family, marries the Crown Prince of Japan, the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She is the first nonaristocratic woman to enter the mysterious, almost hermetically sealed, and longest-running monarchy in the world. Met with cruelty and suspicion by the Empress and her minions, Haruko is controlled at every turn. The only interest the court has in Haruko is her ability to produce an heir. After finally giving birth to a son, she suffers a nervous breakdown and loses her voice. However, determined not to be crushed by the imperial bureaucrats, Haruko perseveres. Thirty years later, now Empress herself, she plays a crucial role in persuading another young woman - a rising star in the foreign ministry - to accept the marriage proposal of her son, the Crown Prince. The consequences are tragic and dramatic." "Told in Haruko's voice, The Commoner is the story of a brutally rarefied and controlled existence at once hidden and exposed, and of a complex relationship between two isolated women who, despite being visible to all, are truly understood only by each other."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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