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The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
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's review
Jul 21, 2012

it was amazing

The Commoner tells the story of the first non aristocratic Japanese commoner to marry a Crown Prince of Japan. A young woman who has grown up in what would be considered moderate luxury and moderate freedom, with a good education, and loving parents connects with the Crown Prince through playing tennis matches with him, and then occasionally meeting with him in other social situations. At the onset her parents are adverse to the match because they believe their daughter will be thrust into a imperial court and world that she has not been trained for, growing up as a common citizen, and they do not want her to suffer. However after pressure from one of the Prince's closest confidante's and inside the imperial court her parent's and Haruko relent to the Prince's offer, and say yes, that she will marry the Prince.

From the day of her marriage, and her entrance into learning all the traditions, rigorous schedules, and rules of the court, Haruko learns that her main purpose is to provide an heir, and to quietly suffer the criticisms of the current empress without complaint. A few years into her marriage she has a nervous breakdown, which she does eventually recover from, but which shows how her imperial life has taken away her connections to her nuclear family, and her sense of purpose as a soul who has her own interests, and being a person beyond the strict traditions of the world she now feels trapped in. Around thirty years after her own marriage Haruko is instrumental is convincing another common citizen, a young woman who is independent and strong minded to accept the marriage proposal of her son, even though she suspects that the girl might have the same troubles that she did. This ultimately results in tragedy, but has a bittersweet ending. Haruko in the only way she can helps her daughter in law escape the fate that she herself must live with. This book was a very easy read, wonderful writing, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about this dynasty, and the traditions, and human feelings that go along with it.

For other reviews you can also check out my blog: http://booksalicious.blogspot.com/
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