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The Commoner

A Novel

by John Burnham Schwartz

The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2008
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Power Reviewer Dorothy T.

Uncommon novel
This author's writing style is gorgeous, although I admit I had to re-read a few passages to be sure I understood them. The setting--the Japanese Imperial court and its traditions and rituals--give the novel an exotic ambiance, but also drives the story. How can this centuries-old way of life continue to survive in our modern world? Haruko, the central character, is so well-drawn that her joys and heartaches affected me. I am looking forward to our book club discussion--there is much to delve into here.
Deborah

The Commoner
As an avid reader with a love for novels set in the orient I waited impatiently for The Commoner to arrive. I was not disappointed and could not put the book down. A reader will find nothing ordinary in Schwartz's writing. The author captivates the reader with detailed descriptions and smooth prose so that one feels like they are eavesdropping on the characters. This is a must read for all who appreciate excellent writing and a good story. I found myself caught between my desire to keep reading and dreading the novels end. I am happily looking forward to reading Schwartz's earlier novels
Vicki

The Commoner
Finally, an Asian historical fiction as good as Memoirs of a Geisha. Great read, The characters were vivid, the book well written and I was sorry to see it end. A fascinating novel.
Brenda

Interesting and eye-opening!
The Commoner is an excellent and unique portrayal of a 'common' woman' shaped by the surroundings of the inner circle of court life in Japan and the intense struggles she embraces. As the story develops, the author clearly captures the stark double standard that exists following WW2 between the role of women in the Imperial family and the evolving role of women in Japanese society. I love reading books about other times and cultures... and the ending was so fitting!
Ruth

Open your mind and heart to a “common” Japanese woman through reading an excellent story as told by a very good story teller.
The Commoner is a novel that captivated me from the title page to the last (read with mild regret), satisfying page of the book. It offered intimate details of the country of Japan, the totally believable characters, and the Imperial Court and it’s ceremony and traditions. John Burnham Schwartz ascended to my list of authors who tell a truly great story and evoke emotion and imagery that brought me to live with and among his wonderfully realized characters. Highly recommended for book clubs, people interested in the far east and post W.W.II history, and people who enjoy reading about relationships and how important they are in some people’s lives.
Liz

The Commoner
I really enjoyed this book, having lived in Japan I was very interested in the culture and personalities of the characters. I found the book to be well written and engaging. This would be a great book club read as there is a lot to discuss. At the very least I would recommend this book to others, Japanophiles or not.
Shirley

The Commoner
The Commoner is a “must read” for those who have any interest in other cultures. It presents a riveting picture of life, not only unknown to most westerners, but unimaginable. The customs and settings were meticulously researched and beautifully vivid. The characters were drawn with such sympathy, one could not help caring about them. The plot is well-planned although I regretted the years “lost” to passing time. I wanted to stay with Haruko, not to miss a moment of her life and loves. It has been a long time since I learned so much and was so totally captivated by any novel. This one will be long-remembered and remain as a favorite on my shelf.
Power Reviewer Nikki

Worth a read
The Commoner was a very well-researched work of historical fiction. At times, I almost believed that I was reading an actual account of this woman's life. Though not a page-turner, I did enjoy learning more about the culture. Definitely worth a read!
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