The Commoner

The Commoner

Book - 2008
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Random House, Inc.

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.



Baker & Taylor
In 1959, Haruko marries the Crown Prince of Japan, becoming the first commoner to enter the mysterious and reclusive world of Japanese royalty, confronting the cruelty and suspicions of the court, until, three decades later, she helps arrange the marriage of her son, in a novel inspired by the real-life stories of the reigning empress and crown princess of Japan. 30,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
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.

Baker
& Taylor

In 1959, Haruko marries the Crown Prince of Japan, becoming the first commoner to enter the mysterious and reclusive world of Japanese royalty, confronting the cruelty and suspicions of the court, until, three decades later, she helps arrange the marriage of her son.

Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese, [2008]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9780385515719
0385515715
Branch Call Number: FIC Schwartz, J 2008
Characteristics: 351 pages ; 22 cm

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m
maipenrai
Aug 18, 2016

AUDIOBOOK AND LARGE PRINT AVAILABLE THRU MNLink

n
neeka131
Oct 16, 2012

This was an interesting story but did not invoke as much emotion as I was expecting. The end was very dry and anti-climatic.

b
bxrlover
Jul 14, 2012

Would have made an interesting story in more capable hands.

PhylBee Sep 12, 2011

I just finished this book for our book discussion group and I thought it was an excellent story. While the author claims it to be fictional, it is obviously based on the Imperial family. I agree with "pokano" that the two young commoner women who married into the imperial family only to lose their spirits is a very sad thing. What could be worse than marrying into a European royal family? Marrying into the Japanese imperial family!

p
pokano
Aug 17, 2010

The author candidly admits that the Japanese Imperial Family was the inspiration for this novel but claims the book is solely fiction. Ha! I'll bet nearly everything in the book except for the ending has a basis in fact. The Imperial Household has basically driven two exceptional women nuts and this is the story of how it was done. Very interesting book.

m
maven
Dec 11, 2009

Crisp language, but too devoid of emotion. The plot jumped too much and the pace varied too much as well.

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