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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz

At the age of twenty-four Haruko, a commoner, marries the Crown Prince of Japan, becoming the first non-aristocratic woman to do so. She, an accomplished, well-educated woman, enters a life controlled by the Empress and her minions---one where she no longer has an identity of her own. She suffers a nervous breakdown, but eventually recovers and perseveres. Thirty years later, now Empress herself, she plays a crucial role in persuading another commoner to accept her son's proposal.
Though histories of certain members of the Japanese Imperial family were an inspiration for the story, it is a product of fiction. However, it is a timely and relevant one----a fascinating and enjoyable read.