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Article

The Commoner

Posted on

The Commoner

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
John Burnham Schwartz
publisher:
Nan A. Talese
genre:
Fiction

We gave it a C+

In John Burnham Schwartz’s pallid fourth novel, The Commoner, loosely based on the life of Michiko, Japan’s empress, narrator Haruko comes of age in postwar Japan, the only child of loving parents. But after she marries the country’s personable crown prince, whom she meets on a tennis court, Haruko forfeits her freedom forever. There is terrific potential in the story of a modern woman confronting the rigidly circumscribed life of royalty; Haruko must follow arcane rules of etiquette, and her mother-in-law openly despises her. Alas, Schwartz’s account of Haruko’s breakdown, subsequent recovery, and late-in-life burst of rebellion is thin and unconvincing. C+