Customer Reviews for

The Commoner

Average Rating 3.5
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

I Wanted More

Ahhhh, Mr. Schwartz, I thank you with all my heart for presenting this story to us. Though it must be written as 'fiction' you were still able to get deep within the family's daily lives to give us momentary close-up views. Yet, with all that you were able to give, I wa...
Ahhhh, Mr. Schwartz, I thank you with all my heart for presenting this story to us. Though it must be written as 'fiction' you were still able to get deep within the family's daily lives to give us momentary close-up views. Yet, with all that you were able to give, I wanted so much more. For instance, I was so fascinated to read the details of the marriage ceremony. Yet, I felt like I was being rushed through it. It's hard not to compare this with book with 'Memoirs of a Geisha', because it too presents a male author of a female narrator. With that in mind, it comes up short and disappointing.

posted by Anonymous on March 1, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Second half lacks sizzle

I loved this book through chapter 23. The action had been a little slow-moving until then, but this was acceptable since the relationships between the protagonist and her parents were so endearing, and the transition from childhood self to adult life made for an interes...
I loved this book through chapter 23. The action had been a little slow-moving until then, but this was acceptable since the relationships between the protagonist and her parents were so endearing, and the transition from childhood self to adult life made for an interesting read. But even after the metamorphosis was complete, the book was far from over. Almost the entire latter half of the novel is spent describing the mundane drivel of the Empress's bleak life. Other than the rising action that finally saved the closing few chapters of the book, the most positive thing I can say about the second half is that I felt that I could emphasize with a bored main character when I myself felt jaded.

posted by Anonymous on September 12, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2008

    I Wanted More

    Ahhhh, Mr. Schwartz, I thank you with all my heart for presenting this story to us. Though it must be written as 'fiction' you were still able to get deep within the family's daily lives to give us momentary close-up views. Yet, with all that you were able to give, I wanted so much more. For instance, I was so fascinated to read the details of the marriage ceremony. Yet, I felt like I was being rushed through it. It's hard not to compare this with book with 'Memoirs of a Geisha', because it too presents a male author of a female narrator. With that in mind, it comes up short and disappointing.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2008

    Second half lacks sizzle

    I loved this book through chapter 23. The action had been a little slow-moving until then, but this was acceptable since the relationships between the protagonist and her parents were so endearing, and the transition from childhood self to adult life made for an interesting read. But even after the metamorphosis was complete, the book was far from over. Almost the entire latter half of the novel is spent describing the mundane drivel of the Empress's bleak life. Other than the rising action that finally saved the closing few chapters of the book, the most positive thing I can say about the second half is that I felt that I could emphasize with a bored main character when I myself felt jaded.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2008

    BORING

    sixty pages in, and i'm bored out of my mind. i could take another story about a repressed asian woman, just not one that moves as slow as this one. i am putting it down, with some regret, but life's too short!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2008

    Good Wanted More Detail

    I enjoyed this book but would have liked more character development and a deeper sense of place. Considering the subject, though -- situations nearly unconscionable to Westerners, and telling a story that continues to play out within the Japanese Imperial family -- maybe this was difficult. I admired Mr. Schwartz's ability to identify with and 'speak for' a female narrator. Want to read his other books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2008

    No secrets revealed

    Thought the book was interesting but since the author published as a fiction thought he would go a little more into the reasons why there seems to be so many problems for the Japanese females who enter the Royal Household. A little bit of a hint of what might be going on behind the royal chambers, but not much of the interplay between the characters. Japanese mother-in-laws are notorious for their mistreatment of daughter-in-laws. The book gives a little taste of the verbal and psychological abuse that may be occuring but it would have been a more interesting book if the author put a little spin and developed that relationshop a little more in the book. The end was a little bit of a twist, but in today's society it does not seem very realistic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Beautiful!

    This novel is touching, and heart wrenching at the same time. It is beautifully written, and wonderful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    Excellent!

    Truly the best book I have ever read. Period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    What a gorgeous read

    This author crafted this narrative of prose as if creating a masterpiece of art. This is truly a subtle work of art with the use of words to intrigue the reader, to entice the reader to feel the characters in the book. I definitely recommend this as a must read.

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  • Posted February 23, 2012

    Love it!

    A great read.

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Interesting Cultural Details

    I was impressed that the author made me forget he was a man writing from a woman's point of view, but there were only a few sympathetic characters in the story - and the ending seemed completely improbable.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Falls short

    Somewhat of a compelling story however, the author spends more time describing environment than developing characters. I never really felt connected to any of the characters. They seemed as remote to me as the culture itself. The last few chapters felt as if they were put together in a hurry, as if the author needed to meet his deadline. The ending seemed rushed and unrealistic even if the story is based on actual events.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Very Interesting.

    Although advertised as fiction, there are too many similarities with the real people to make you wonder. You have to decide for yourself. I think it is true ... just the names were changed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The title is what got me curious, along with the picture. After reading the book you realize how fitting the title is!!

    This book kept me always wanting there to be more to it than it would ever give. It's plot was very simple and it didn't go into great detail about Japanese culture. If you are interested in Japanese Royalty and what might be expected of their Royalty, then you will love this book, however if you have read a lot about Japanese culture already then this book may leave you wishing there was more to it as it did me. Not a bad read, just don't expect to be greatly moved by it either.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Predictable but good

    This book is great for a rainy day or to otherwise pass the time but it isn't the compelling, dramatic story I had hoped it would be. Unfortunately, it was predictable and sometimes even a bit depressing. But, it wasn't a total waste of a read either...marginally worth the money, I'd say.

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  • Posted May 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Is anything worth the price of freedom?

    The Commoner is a beautifully written and well researched novel. Mr. Schwartz has given us a glimpse into the world of the Japanese royal family. He has chosen a woman, Haruko, as his narrator and does a remarkable job depicting her thoughts and feelings as she transitions from life as a commoner to that of the Empress of Japan. We are witness to her most private and painful moments. After all she has experienced, some of Haruko's actions are questionable. Although an attempt at redemption is made towards the end of the novel, there can be none.

    One cannot help but feel pity for these characters whose every action is choreographed. Is life as a royal worth the price of one's freedom?

    This was an enjoyable book and I recommend to those interested in historical fiction or Japanese culture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2008

    Beautiful Book

    This is an extraordinary novel. Schwartz's writing is fluid, elegant, rich in emotional resonance. The narrative momentum builds quietly but with a disarming intensity. It is written with compassion, a sharp eye for detail, both historic and imagined, and the control of a literary master. Do not miss it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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