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Book reviews in less than 250 words
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Tuesday, 31 July 2012
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
I was supplied this book by We Love This Book for review, However the review is my un-biased and not influenced by any one else’s opinion.
A tiny man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th Century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he looses his heart but keeps his integrity.
This is one of those books that on reflection after reading it, when you go to list all of the things you have got out of it, you realise it’s a huge epic. To skate on but a few, we read about “Those Yankee leeches” and we realise that this was the time that the English were trying to get rid of the Dutch occupancy of New York in America. We also learn about the collapse of the Dutch East India company 1799. Mitchell also does a great honour to the culture of the Japanese of that period.
This book fits into so many boxes, it’s a love story, it’s a piece of social history, he covers the Dutch and Japanese trading exploits in much the same way as Dickens covered the social history of English childhood poverty in the 19th Century. However, due to Mitchells fluid voices of different characters, its not a dusty old history lesson but an escape through a portal just like all other time-travellers.
This read would suit anyone who likes their books with a bit more meat on the bones, something a bit more challenging than a top 10 casual BOGOHP (buy one get one half price) but not quite as heavy as a Dickens, Trollop of any of the great classics.