A Cup of Light

A Cup of Light is the third book I’ve read by Nicole Mones, and I do love her work! She’s such a good storyteller, and I find her topics fascinating!  Her books are set in China, and there’s so much to learn about the culture and about the arts in each of them.  Recently I read her book, The Last Chinese Chef, which was a delicious story about Chinese cuisine. This one was about the world surrounding priceless Imperial porcelain, and Ms. Mones really did her research. I enjoy how much I learn about Chinese culture from her books, but I particularly enjoy the characters she creates.

From the publisher:

As an American appraiser of fine Chinese porcelain, Lia Frank holds fragile beauty in her hands, examines priceless treasure with a magnifying lens. But when Lia looks in the mirror, she sees the flaws in herself, a woman wary of love, cut off from the world around her. Still, when she is sent to Beijing to authenticate a collection of rare pieces, Lia will find herself changing in surprising ways…coming alive in the shadow of an astounding mystery. 

As Lia evaluates each fragile pot, she must answer questions that will reverberate through dozens of lives: Where did these works of art come from? Are they truly authentic? Or are they impossibly beautiful forgeries–part of the perilous underworld of Chinese art? As Lia examines her treasure, a breathtaking mystery unravels around her. And with political intrigue intruding on her world of provenance and beauty, Lia is drawn into another, more personal drama–a love affair that could alter the course of her life.

An excerpt from the book:

Tilted on its side, surrounded by white silk, it seemed to be one of the Chenghua chicken cups.  But that would be impossible. Those delicate little Ming masterworks, made in the late 1400s for the Chenghua emperor, were some of porcelain’s highest stars. Whole careers were devoted to them…

…She unrolled the felt and lifted the cup out again. She held it to eye level. Fantastic. The proportion, the shape and balance were just what they ought to be. It was a feeling more than anything else, but it was sure and deep and it ran like a stream of light all through her: The cup was right.  The porcelain had that vanilla-toned, off-white warmth that came from the clay used during the Chenghua reign, never dead white, always soft, alive. It was an effect almost impossible to reproduce, and this cup had it right.

This was a very enjoyable and enlightening book, and I’m counting it for both my Art History  Challenge and my Global Reading Challenge.

5 thoughts on “A Cup of Light

  1. Tracey

    This sounds wonderful! I’ve just read People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks which perhaps has similar themes. That was wonderful too. Thanks for your review. I hadn’t heard of Nicole Mones before but will look out for her now.


  2. nomadreader

    I read this book years ago and completely forgot about it. I recall reading the whole book on an airplane and loving it. I’m so glad to be reminded of this author, and I’ll look for her books. Thanks!


  3. Robin Post author

    Tracey, I’ve been meaning to read People of the Book for a long time now. I’m sure I’d enjoy it! And I hope you enjoy some Nicole Mones soon, too.

    Thanks, Nomadreader. I really enjoy her work and hope she has many more good stories to tell.


  4. Rose City Reader

    I really enjoy her books too. I read Lost in Translation and Chinese Chef, but I haven’t read this one yet. I am looking forward to it and it is on my TBR shelf. I am going to read your Chef review as soon as I get a minute.



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