The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet (Hardback)
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DescriptionTHE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER David Mitchell's novels have captivated critics and readers alike, as his Man Booker shortlistings and Richard & Judy Book of the Year award attest. Now he has written a masterpiece. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is the kind of book that comes along once in a decade - enthralling in its storytelling, imagination and scope. Set at a turning point in history on a tiny island attached to mainland Japan, David Mitchell's tale of power, passion and integrity transports us to a world that is at once exotic and familiar: an extraordinary place and an era when news from abroad took months to arrive, yet when people behaved as they always do - loving, lusting and yearning, cheating, fighting and killing. Bringing to vivid life a tectonic shift between East and West, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is dramatic, funny, heartbreaking, enlightening and thought-provoking. Reading it is an unforgettable experience.
- Published: 13 May 2010
- Format: Hardback 480 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780340921562 ISBN 10: 0340921560
- Sales rank: 9,816
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Reviews for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet
Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??The truth of a myth, Your Honour, is not in its words but its patterns.Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??
This novel opens in 1799, on the island of Dejima in Nagasaki Bay, where the Dutch East India Company was the sole trading point between Europe and the isolationist Japanese. Young Dutch clerk Jacob de Zoet has been tasked with stamping out corruption.
The Company desires me, sir, to be thorough in all things.'
Dejima is a small island and is inhabited only by translators, prostitutes and traders. Access to mainland Japan is over a small fiercely guarded bridge. The Europeans resident on Dejima are isolated in every sense.
Jacob de Zoet is drawn to Orito, a midwife who has found favour with Hiroshima's governor and has been permitted greater contact with the Europeans as a consequence. Orito is working with Dr Marinus, the resident physician. Jacob and Orito fall in love, but culture and politics keep them separated. Jacob falls out of favour with his superior, and Orito is sold to a shrine after her father dies. These separate events, and what follows, serve to underline the difference between two very different worlds.
Details beget facts, and facts, judiciously sent forth, become assassins.'
Meanwhile, world events are changing the balance of power between the Dutch and the British. This becomes clear when Captain John Penhaligon of the British Navy sails into Dejima with a view to dislodging the Dutch.
Everything is happening too slow and too fast and all at once.'
This is a wonderful work of fiction. The main stories are those of Jacob de Zoet and Orito and to a lesser extent John Penhaligon. While the underlying historical basis is solid, not all facts and dates are accurate. But it doesn't matter, not for this story. This novel has its own rules, and is enhanced by the rich detail in the writing. And the ending? I think it's best to read the novel to appreciate the context.
Looking backwards, Jacob sees pages from the months and years ahead.'
Jennifer Cameron-Smith by Jennifer Cameron-Smith