Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell

I've always had an interest in Japan, especially Japan prior to its being forced open in the mid-1800's. This story centers around 50 years prior to that time, when a young Dutch clerk seeks his fortune by going to the only place where foreigners are allowed in Japan, an artificial island in the bay of Nagasaki. He becomes infatuated with a Japanese woman who is a midwife and a student of the European doctor who tends to the Dutch East India Company residents of this foreign enclave.

I almost gave up on Jacob in the first third of the book because I thought he was a rigid naif among a nest of snakes and was hoping for more. I kept going because of the writing and the characters.

Without giving too much away, Jacob's circumstances change, and then the book just takes off. The story pulls you along into a web of intrigue and Jacob rises to the occasion. If you enjoy being immersed in an exotic time and place by an imaginative plot using interesting characters, this book is for you. Becky, it has similar other worldly aspects that remind me of Murakami. Amanda, there is true evil magic. Everyone, it is subtle and beautifully written. Hope you like it.


Becky said...

I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that you almost gave up on this guy in the first 1/3 of the book. See, sometimes if you keep with someone through the end of the book, they'll surprise you! :-)

Sounds interesting!

Amanda Amos said...

Ooooh....true evil magic. I'm intrigued.

Anonymous said...

@Becky....we taught him well by making him push through the first third of our lives with us. It. Gets. Better. ;-)

Dave said...

@Dave - Actually, it was the second third of your lives that was kind of a push (or talking to the cat).