Imagine it, you cannot speak your mind. You cannot go out of doors or run to the market or have coffee with your mom and dad. As for a girl’s night out, forget it. Your world is full of cannots. Even speaking openly to your husband can be fraught with danger. Haruko finally fulfills her obligation, producing the requisite male heir only to be parted from him. The child is given into the hands of others who are better qualified to care for him. Haruko loses what little happiness was left to her. She is so beaten down, she loses her voice. She doesn’t speak. Not for weeks and weeks. This time is poignantly rendered in language that holds such pathos and grace, your heart aches for her. There is only one possibility for her emotional survival and that is for her to accept her fate, which she eventually does with quiet dignity. And her son grows into a man. But when he then weds a rising star in the foreign ministry--yet another commoner--the consequences are tragic and Haruko’s response is as courageous as it is astonishing. You want to stand and applaud. It is here that the story gains an urgency that keeps pace until the very end. The Commoner is a rare and captivating look into a little-known world and an altogether gorgeous and engrossing read.
For more about the author visit John Burnham Schwartz's website.