Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: The Commoner

John Burnham Schwartz's novel, The Commoner, is masterfully written.  I picked it up after a friend, who shares my literary tastes, recommended the book.  Although I couldn't read it in one sitting--my favorite way to read is to devour--I managed to complete it in three days, very long days of waiting to get back to the book!

The commoner of the novel is Haruko, a young woman in 1950's Japan who marries the Crown Prince.  

Photo of my hardback copy
As the first non-aristocratic Crown Princess, she is met with cruelty at every turn and is handled by those who are in the hand of the Empress.  Years of cruelty and suspicion wreck havoc on young Haruko and she suffers a nervous breakdown, unable to speak.  Over time, Haruko learns how to hold on to her private self and manage her public life.  

"When thirty years later--now Empress herself--she plays a crucial role in persuading another young woman--Keiko, a brilliant foreign servant who dreams of having a career--to accept the marriage proposal of Haruko's son, the Crown Prince, the consequences are tragic and dramatic" (John Burnham Schwartz website)

I highly recommend The Commoner and add that I can barely wait to purchase Reservation Road and it's sequel, Northwest Corner.  

If you've read any of Schwartz's books, leave a note letting us know how you liked it.  I'd certainly like to hear other points of view on these novels.

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