1) i shouldn't have to wait 150 pages to finally care about a book. the book hardly held my attention while haruko was still a commoner. i did feel life from her friend miko and miko's brother kenji, but their presence was too limited to make it plausible that haruko had led a full, free life before entering the royal family. if anything, she seemed rather boring and free of ambition, the je ne sais quoi that others would call dynamism or a spark.
2) i wanted to know why she...more
This is the first b...more
We know the Prince, breaking with all tradition, wants to marry her, but we never know why. In the long history of the Japanese Empire, neve...more
“At every turn, sometimes subtly and sometimes crudely, the same lesson was driven home: the world would greet me with abject deference not because I deserved or wished it but becaus...more
For me, though, the ending was where it all fell apart. It was too improbable and made me briefly flirt with the idea of...more
The bare bones of the story will strike those who live in Japan as familiar - the crown prince and his bride (in this story, Haruko) meet on a tennis court in Karuizawa. Under the constant scrutiny of the court, Haruko becomes so stressed that she loses her voice for several months. Finally, she c...more
Set in Japan, beginning shortly before World War II, this novel tells the story of Haruko, a young woman from a very good family. She is coming of age as Tokyo rebuilds after the war, and she gets a taste of the outside world when her best friend writes letters from America, where her father is a diplomat. She is lovely, educated and accomplished, and Haruko attracts the attention of several suitors. The summer after she completes her university studies, Haruko and her family take a summer...more
Het is 1959 wanneer Haruko trouwt met de kroonprins en daarmee de eerste niet-aristocratische kroonprinses wordt in de zeer mysterieuze en hermetische gesloten monarchie van Japan. Onmiddellijk wordt ze geconfronteerd met de wreedheid en verdachtmakingen van de keizerin en haar volgelingen, die slechts geïnteresseerd zijn in een nieuwe troonopvolger. Alle bewegingen van Haruko worden in de gaten gehouden en onder die druk krijgt ze een zenuwinzinking. Maar op pure wilskracht weet ze zich te hers...more
This well written book (up to a point) is a novel about the Emperor of Japan's son and his commoner (first ever...more
She becomes a good tennis player and eventually winds up in a tournament playing against the Crown Prince of Japan. He falls in love with her and asks for her hand. Her parents know what Haruko will go through as a Crown Princess and the cloistered existence she'll be forced to...more
Schwartz, an American man, has Haruko, a Japanese woman, narrate her story of growing up in Tokyo during WWII, marrying the prince, and the difficulties she experiences isolated in the emotionally barren Imperial Court. I enjoyed the detail of the ritualized life of the royal family. The first 100...more
The ill-fated princess of Wales was probably on John Burnham Schwartz’s mind as he wrote his terrific new novel, “The Commoner,” but uppermost on it were two other princesses: the one who became the current empress of Japan, the former Michiko Shoda, and her daughter-in-law, the current crown princess, w...more
However, I found several of the characters (the Crown Prince, the E...more
Like the Empress Michiko, Haruko meets the Crown Prince on the tennis court. As she is a commoner, the marriage is opposed by the Japanese Royal Family and even after the marriage and birth of a son, her primary function being to secure an heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne, she is bullied by the Empress and staff. The story of her mental breakdown which causes...more
We watch as she becomes part of the Imperial Family and what that all means. We quickly fly through a period where she has 2 children, don't get too much on their upbringing, and her children's choices in their marriages (where her son ma...more
This book started very slowly for me. The first 60 pages or so seemed like background information. I was very worried because the book is only 351 pages long.
I loved the relationship between Haruko and her father.
I feel like there is something missing in this book. The author describes the physica...more