The Commoner

The Commoner

3.48 (3,989 ratings by Goodreads)
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It is 1959 when Haruko, a young woman of good family, marries the Crown Prince of Japan, the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She is the first non-aristocratic woman to enter the longest-running, almost hermetically sealed, and mysterious monarchy in the world. Met with cruelty and suspicion by the Empress and her minions, Haruko is controlled at every turn. The only interest the court has in her is her ability to produce an heir. After finally giving birth to a son, Haruko suffers a nervous breakdown and loses her voice. However, determined not to be crushed by the imperial bureaucrats, she perseveres. Thirty years later, now Empress herself, she plays a crucial role in persuading another young woman--a rising star in the foreign ministry--to accept the marriage proposal of her son, the Crown Prince. The consequences are tragic and dramatic. Told in the voice of Haruko, meticulously researched and superbly imagined, "The Commoner" is the mesmerizing, moving, and surprising story of a brutally rarified and controlled existence at once hidden and exposed, and of a complex relationship between two isolated women who, despite being visible to all, are truly understood only by each other. With the unerring skill of a master storyteller, John Burnham Schwartz has written his finest novel more

Product details

  • CD-Audio | 5 pages
  • 140 x 160 x 26mm | 199.58g
  • Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Abridged
  • Abridged edition
  • 0739358731
  • 9780739358733

About John Burnham Schwartz

JOHN BURNHAM SCHWARTZ is the author of the novels "Claire Marvel," "Bicycle Days," and "Reservation Road," which was made into a motion picture based on his screenplay, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Connelly. His books have been translated into more than fifteen languages, and his writing has appeared in many publications, including the" New York Times" and "The New Yorker." He lives with his wife and their son in Brooklyn, New more

Review quote

Praise for "Reservation Road ""A dark and irresistible miracle: a heartbreaking thriller." --"Los Angeles Times ""Haunting...a powerful and affecting novel." --"The" "New York Times " "Thrums with suspense and moral ambiguity...This is one of those rare--very rare--novels that you don't so much read as inhabit and that makes everyday life seem altogether mysterious and fragile, and infinitely perilous." --"Entertainment Weekly ""A triumph...character-driven as it is, it reads like a thriller, swift and complete." --"The New York Times Book Review"show more

Review Text

"A unique literary adventure, intimate, exotic; wonderfully imagined and achieved. The narrative impels the reader from first to last, immersing us in its flow of ancient acceptances and new demands. Splendid." - Shirley Hazzard, author of The Transit of Venus and The Great Fire "A fascinating and moving book in which great harm - all the more painful for being quiet and impersonal - befalls characters who, with one exception, are entirely innocent and sympathetic. The Commoner is a rare novel, wonderfully researched and beautifully written." - Peter Matthiessen "Schwartz pulls off a grand feat in giving readers a moving dramatization of a cloistered world." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)show more

Rating details

3,989 ratings
3.48 out of 5 stars
5 14% (550)
4 35% (1,379)
3 39% (1,572)
2 11% (419)
1 2% (69)
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