Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Commoner

This book was the April selection for Book Club. Had it not been, I'm not sure I would have picked this up on my own. This is one of the joys of the Book Club experience, being exposed to books you wouldn't necessarily seek out yourself.

This book is, as the jacket says, meticulously researched and superbly imagined. In 1959, Haruko, a commoner, marries the Crown Prince of Japan, the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She is the first non-aristocratic woman to be immersed in the tightly sealed monarchy. She is treated with cruelty, and after she gives birth to her son, the heir, and has fulfilled her purpose, she suffers a nervous breakdown and loses her voice.

Years later, as Empress herself, she plays a crucial role in persuading another young woman to accept the marriage proposal of her son, the Crown Prince. The consequences of this are very tragic, and Schwartz does a great job describing the relationship between these two isolated women, who despite their high visibility roles on the world stage are invisible as women and really only truly understood by each other.

A lovely and moving book.

1 comment:

Marie said...

this sounds like a wonderful story! i love the books you come up with.

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