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 inte...more
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
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
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
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
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
There's been a lot about the impending birth of the new third in line to the British throne: the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton was due to give birth July 13, but didn't. Probably a good thing because the British press reports that Prince William was out playing polo on Saturday.
But as the royal watchers wait with bated breath, I've been thinking about an American novel about a royal couple who have a very dif ...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
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
It's a story about the first commoner empress of the Japanese Empire and her long and hard - often very painful way of getting used to her new life and responsibilities.
When I bought this book - more than 5 years ago I thought it's going to be some light but enjoyable young adult fiction but it turned out to be so much more.
The first thing that stands out that it's very nicely written, the author crafts the words wit ...more
I was also frustrated b ...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
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
Olyan a könyv mintha a japán császárné memoárja lenne, persze nem az, de az író jól vegyíti a tényeket a kitalációval, és tényleg olyan érzésem volt, hogy sikerült betekinteni a Japán Császárok titkos, elzárt világába.
Néhol olyan szívszorító volt, hogy 2 kezemmel akartam kimenteni Harukot helyzetéből, vagy elsöpörni az eszement hagyományokat ...more