There's a lot I liked about this book, which seems to be loved by everyone (well, not everyone, the way The Help is loved by everyone, because I can think of a lot of people who love The Help that wouldn't love this). But I have mixed feelings about it too- I felt like it was almost pretentious, almost too obvious. Certainly the plot wasn't obvious though; I can't imagine that any reader would have predicted the last few pages because they were abrupt and completely unexpected. And I skipped the musings on art and philosophy because that's not my thing.
I liked the characters, all of them, even though several were annoying. I always think it's interesting when people from a different culture are part of a novel (in this case, a Japanese man is an important part of a book set in France), and this book uses that character well. It would be interesting to compare how different authors use characters like that to convey certain ideas in their books.