>> Thursday, July 24, 2008
Publication Date: 2008
This is fiction that is clearly based on a real person. The heroine of the story is Haruko, who in the years following WWII, meets and eventually marries the Crown Prince of Japan. She becomes the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Imperial Family. It’s definitely a very thinly disguised story of the current Empress of Japan, Empress Michiko. At least it is until the end which veers from reality (or does it?)
In some ways, this book reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha, a female character written by a man and some wonderfully written passages. It was interesting and even good, but yet I still felt somewhat let down. I wanted it to be excellent and it didn’t take that leap for me. Schwartz does a good job of telling the story as Haruko looking back on her life. The Haruko who is telling the story is a woman who has lived many years in the restrained and incredibly structured and oppressive world of the Japanese Imperial family who really do live in a world apart.
It is said that one crosses the moat only once in a lifetime.
On the other hand, I found myself searching online to find the real story about Empress Michiko and her family to fill in the gaps and add some real life to the story Shwartz presents in the book.
It’s hard to decide how I feel about this one. Part of me thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was good and part of me wanted a bit more.