…. So what we have here is a first novel ambitiously plotting two stories thousands of miles apart. The historical background gives color to the actions and preoccupations of the characters, trapped in events they cannot change, and affected by change they mostly do not understand. The descriptions of early Meiji era life give a human face to a period sometimes oversimplified in primers on early modern Japan. This, combined with Schuyler's sharp attention to detail, makes The Painting an engrossing read.