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Paperback The Commoner Book

ISBN: 1400096057

ISBN13: 9781400096053

The Commoner

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

In this national bestseller from the author of Reservation Road, a young woman, Haruko, becomes the first nonaristocratic woman to penetrate the Japanese monarchy. When she marries the Crown Prince of... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Memories of Japan

I am about to finish this fine book. It is easy reading and compelling. Having lived in Japan for over 13 years, it brings back memories of many things. One time, at a sea side hotel, I was at a conference where the Emperor came to greet us. I stood a few yards from Him and His Wife. It was quite an experience. I also was there when the old man died, quite a mourning time and funeral. This author has caught the scene well, the Englsih teacher, which I also did, the culture, rules and struggles of being a family from the Sun. Many thanks, I am passing this along in my family. Peace Koshin Bob Hanson

If you liked "Remains of the Day" ...

... then it's hard to imagine you disliking "The Commoner." Though it must be said that, given the layers of impenetrability surrounding the Chrysanthemum Throne, Schwartz attempts an even more difficult summit here than Ishiguro in his best-known work. And he succeeds. At its fundament, "The Commoner" is a story of two women ceremonially bound to a fate neither quite chosen nor quite resisted - at least on the surface. Beneath is where Schwartz works his alchemy. I particularly enjoyed Haruko's verbal jousts with the royal pest of the Imperial Court ... cherry blossoms laced with acetate. It's a testament to the author's skill and restraint that, in tracing Haruko's steps, we feel all at once the finery of the silk, the suffocation of the sash, and the stony indifference of the centuries underfoot. Daring and skillful. Five stars.


This is one of the most beautiful and moving books I've read in years. To be given such witness to the practice of ancient nobility is a rare gift. And to be given that gift in the form of an enticing and sympathetic main character is all the more rare and wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed every page. This is a must read.

An incredibly engrossing read

Such a beautifully written and fascinating story. I found myself so quickly and thoroughly caught up in a world that was previously completely unknown to me that it was hard for me to tell where biographical/historical fact ended and novelistic invention began. The fact that the story of Haruko's marriage into the semi-divine confines of Japan's royal family is in fact based on a true story only makes this book that much more intriguing. Although it's completely authentic in its tiny details of palace life, ultimately what makes this book so pleasurable in the read is it's first person narrative. Haruko is a marvelous and original character that you can't help but root for. Her journey from a cloistered family upbringing in the rubble of World War II through Japan's remarkable 20th century history is so deep and so true that it's hard to believe it was written by a man. Interestingly , one thing I kept thinking as I was enjoying this wonderful book, is that by bringing me into to the interior life of this uniquely contemporary Japanese monarch that I was somehow gaining access to another late 20th century royal icon - on a different continent - who also paid a price for being born a commoner.
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