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The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
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The Commoner

by John Burnham Schwartz

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5683417,512 (3.55)29

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John Burnham Schwartz does make it clear that money and prestige do not a happy life make. And if we missed that truth with the first generation, it became abundantly clear in round two. I guess you just can’t go against tradition. But wait! By marrying commoners, the Crown Princes did go against tradition. So why did the rule breaking have to stop there? Haruko does show strength of character by being more supportive of her daughter-in-law than what she was shown by her own mother-in-law, but even that support was almost too late. Besides the despair and depression that engulfed both princesses, little other character development was evident. We don’t really know how or why both of them suppressed their true personalities or why their husbands allowed them to be so obviously miserable for so long before coming to their aid. The book is sadly lacking in many of the details of their lives, feelings, and thoughts, other than their deep sadness at the life they freely chose. Somehow, though an interesting tale, it missed the mark of being a really good book. ( )
  Maydacat | Feb 21, 2015 |
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 |
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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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