This book was a sensual pleasure. This second novel by the author of Lost in Translation is a wonderful mix of delighting the senses with art and with love. Lia Frank, a porcelain expert for a high-end auctioneers (think Sothebys), flies to China to evaluate twenty pieces of porcelain her and her boss are given to understand are being offered quietly for sale by the Chinese government. With a buyer already in place, Lia’s job is to check the value, make sure there aren’t any fakes in the mix, and try to work out where the porcelain comes from. What she discovers on arrival is that there aren’t twenty pieces, there are 800 pieces. Staggered, astonished, Lia settles in for a much longer stay than she anticipated.
Mones weaves Lia’s knowledge of porcelain through the story like a fine, never-ending banquet, as a reader, you truly drink from a cup of light and are enlightened. I’ll certainly never look at any good chinese porcelain the same way again. An added twist is that Lia is deaf. She wears hearing aids, but while she works she takes them out, and gives over all her other senses to the porcelain. It speaks to her in a language only those who are willing to hear can understand.
And while during the day Lia’s senses and intellect are tested by the porcelain, at night she starts to get to know her neighbour in the little apartment block she is staying in, an American doctor and researcher, trying to come to grips with a divorce and the aftermath of cancer. Lia opens herself to love, and takes a chance on finding happiness.
At the same time, she wrestles with the problem of where so much porcelain has come from, and who is responsible for the few fakes she has found. Fakes so beautiful, they are as worthy of credit as the originals they almost succeed in replicating. The answers she finds will turn her ideas about forgery on their head.
This novel manages to be sensual, intriguing and enlightening. I loved it.