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The Painting

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

In 1869 Japan, a young woman escapes the confines of her arranged marriage by painting memories of her lover on mulberry paper. She secretly wraps the painting around a ceramic pot that's bound for Europe. In France, a disenchanted young man works as a clerk at an import shop. When he opens the box from Japan, he discovers the brilliant watercolor of two lovers locked in an embrace under a plum tree. He steals the painting and hides it in his room. With each viewing, he sees something different, and gradually the painting transforms him.

Set outside the new capital of Tokyo during the Meiji Restoration and in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, The Painting is a richly imagined story of four characters whose lives are delicately and powerfully entwined: Ayoshi, the painter, pines for her lover as she dutifully attends to her husband; Ayoshi's husband, Hayashi, a government official who's been disfigured in a deadly fire, has his own well of secret yearnings; Jorgen, wounded by the war and by life, buries himself in work at the Paris shop; and the shop owner's sister, Natalia, who shows Jorgen the true message of the painting.

Exquisitely written and utterly spellbinding, The Painting reveals the enduring effect of art in ordinary life and marks the debut of a skilled stylist and first-rate storyteller.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 04, 2004 – A host of brittle characters populate this oblique historical novel, set in two very different locations at the same moment in history: Tokyo during the Meiji Restoration and Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. Debut author Schuyler tenuously connects these settings when Ayoshi, a frantically unhappy young Japanese woman who seeks to escape her hated arranged marriage by painting memories of her old lover, sends off a painting wrapped around one of her husband's ceramic bowls. The bowls make their way to Paris, where the painting is discovered by Jorgen, a disabled mercenary soldier from Denmark sitting out the remainder of the war as a merchant's assistant. As miserable as Ayoshi, Jorgen finds himself drawn against his will to his boss's bastard sister Natalia, who has signed up to become a woman soldier. The novel shuttles back and forth between Japan and Paris, but Schuyler never develops a compelling reason to link the two periods, either in plot or in theme. The historical tragedies of Paris and Japan remain stubbornly separate, just as the characters remain unreachable, too caught up in their own webs of misery to become fully alive on the page. Schuyler opts to forgo traditional punctuation, which lends her prose a spare poetic sensibility, and relief comes from moments of almost haiku-like beauty ("She's like a slice of the moonlight") that break through the gloom.
The Painting
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 22, 2004
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 312 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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