genre: historical fiction
synopsis: a painting that reveals the fissure in the relationship of one couple and builds the bridge of the relationship of another
setting: japan and paris, 1869-1870
what i liked: i loved how schuyler tied together two very different cultures. even as a historian, i often forget how global the world has been for so much of its history. japan at this time was opening itself up to foreigners and westernization; paris, like today, was cosmopolitan, stylish, and artistic. this is not, however, the paris we experience in the book, because from 1868-1870, france fought germany in the franco-prussian, the last of three wars in germany’s effort to create a unified and independent nation out of the fragmented collection of city-states it had been since the waning days of the holy roman empire.
what i didn’t like: i couldn’t get fully behind any of the characters. i did get partially behind almost all of them. i’m not sure they’re supposed to be entirely likeable, though, so i wouldn’t let that be a hindrance from reading the book unless it otherwise sounds interesting to you.
trigger warning: rape
final thoughts: a really good read if you’re interested in the 1800s, france, japan, art, and/or societal and relational dynamics