must read: the commoner

two fiction genres i just can’t get enough of:  profiles of royalty (the other boelyn girl) and stories about asian cultures (memoirs of a geisha, snow flower and the secret fan).  both are varieties of historical fiction, but they focus on worlds that are completely and totally foreign to me, and i find both just fascinating.  so, when i spotted the commoner on a shelf at my local barnes and noble, i had to take a look.

the commoner tells the story of the first empress of japan to enter the royal family as a commoner.  the book chronicles empress michiko’s days in school, her meeting and courting the crown prince of japan, and, most interestingly, the trials she encountered once she entered the royal family.  author john burnham schwartz paints a remarkable portrait of a woman who entered into a world she couldn’t possibly have anticipated, and one that she quickly realized was far more than she bargained for. 

what i loved about this book was the portrait schwartz paints of the lead character…i couldn’t help rooting for her at every turn, wanting her to find her way in the maze of tradition and rules in which she found herself.  and, i admit…i couldn’t stop reading this one, if only because i so desperately wanted to see…well, let’s just say (to avoid a plot spoiler) that i kept waiting for some of the characters to get their due.

if you’re like me, and the newest philippa gregory or lisa see book has you running to the bookstore, pick this one up – i predict you’ll have a hard time putting it down.

oh, and i happen to have an extra copy of this one on hand…so if you’re interested, drop a comment here with the last book you read – i’ll draw a winner tomorrow morning 🙂

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12 comments on “must read: the commoner

  1. Erin

    Your review sounds interesting. I too, like historical stories like the ones you’ve mentioned in your post and I have not yet read anything by this author. Embarrassingly enough, the last book I read was Breaking Dawn. It is the final book in the Twilight series…and one I do not recommend, hahaha. However, I HAD to finish the series so there you go 🙂

  2. Zoe

    The last book I read was a history of financial speculation called “Devil Take The Hindmost” – super interesting given the current financial crisis, but heavy going – I would love a copy of “The Commoner” to allow me to escape into wonderful historical fiction every morning on the train!

  3. Jamie

    Sounds like a great read! I can’t resist passing on my favorite recent read: Three Cups of Tea – amazing story of an American’s journey to build schools for the village children in Pakistan.

  4. Donna

    Oooh – we have the same taste in books! I loved the three you mentioned in your post. For the book I just finished: To Kill a Mockingbird.

  5. Kendra

    I read “Delicate Edible Birds” after you recommended it, and really, really, really enjoyed it! The stories were each a great length for a pre-bedtime read. And the cover–so beautiful! I borrowed it from the library but wanted to tear off the plastic covering to be able to feel the paper better! :p My late new year’s resolution (just instituted!) is to read all your recommendations, so I can’t wait to start on this one!

  6. Aviva

    I just read Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father. Made me so mad that Palin slammed him for “only” working as a community organizer – that’s HARD!

  7. Alyssa

    Funny- I love those both too. Especially anything with asian culture- i have no idea why, but its so interesting! Last book i read was for school and it was: A Moveable Feast by Hemingway. i need something light and fun 🙂

  8. Sondra G

    I am a law student so I read the most horrible, boring cases all day. But the last book I read for fun, was New Moon. I read the whole Twilight series in a week and was really when it was over.

  9. Jenn

    Yay! Thanks for the suggestion, I love the other books you mentioned as well. I have to shamefully admit that the last book I read was My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler…funny and entertaining but thats about it! Maybe I will suggest this book for our book club!

  10. loeffler.obsessed

    This sounds like a fantastic book. I recently read “the constant gardener” by John Le Carre. After watching the movie, which was fantastic, I decided to purchase the book. Of course the book was 20x better than the movie and it was a book you can’t put down!

  11. Meagan

    I’m reading “Heat” by Bill Buford. It’s about his time working for Mario Batali at Babbo. But it’s so much more. I considered Babbo one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten (and I like to eat ;)), and this book took away some of the mystery, but also gave me new appreciation? Anyhoo, it’s a really fun read if you like to cook or eat well!

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