Rated of 5
by Dorothy (Front Royal VA)
Haruko, the commoner, went against all custom of Japan and actually beat the next-in-line Emperor of Japan in tennis. The world of politics beyond her garden wall was of little consequence to her. It was actually her lack of experience with the game of politics and royalty that beguiled the crown prince to want her as his consort. But in doing so, Haruko shut the door on her previous life and all who presided there. "Life became a series of rituals written in another age."
Adding to this wall built around her, was the methodical withdrawal of her baby son by her husband's mother who subtly gives the care of Yasu to the servants. Haruko lapses into a breakdown caused by her broken heart.
In a time and culture when the dictates of royalty preside over individual desire and independence, Haruko submits to the control of the Japanese court and releases her right to hold her son; to hold her husband's hand in public; to publicly shed a tear for sorrow of joy.
Time, however, allows her the opportunity to become the Empress of Japan and the mother-in-law to her son's wife. Will she redeem the wrongs that have burdened her life, or continue to carry out the royal traditions? The portrayal of these historic characters written in sensuous prose evokes compassion and a deeper understanding of a world unknown to most.