First and foremost: This is one of the best books I've read this year in spite of the historical improbability laid out at the novel's end. Ayoshi, a woman artist in 1869 Japan, paints in order to remember her lost lover. She hides one of her paintings in a shipment of pottery her husband sends to France, where an ex-soldier unpacks the far-flung riches in a Paris on the verge of defeat during the Franco-Prussian War. So begins the tenuous relationship between two love stories, half a world apart. You won't be able to put it down.