The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller, from the author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS.
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010
Be transported to a place like no other: 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 loses his heart.
Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two cultures converge. In a tale of integrity and corruption, passion and power, the key is control - of riches and minds, and over death itself.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The author of Cloud Atlas demonstrates his gift for complex, multi-layered storytelling full of strange beauty and powerful emotions. Jacob Zoet is a young, conscientious clerk for the Dutch East Indies Company sent to a floating port off Nagasaki in the late 18th century. Although foreigners are prohibited from getting involved in Japanese life, de Zoet strikes up a relationship with a headstrong local midwife—and is drawn into a jaw-dropping adventure that exposes him to the local culture and subcultures. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet isn’t an easy read, but it’s a hugely satisfying tale rich in historical detail and poignant themes.
Mitchell s rightly been hailed as a virtuoso genius for his genre-bending, fiercely intelligent novels Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas. Now he takes something of a busman s holiday with this majestic historical romance set in turn-of-the-19th-century Japan, where young, na ve Jacob de Zoet arrives on the small manmade island of Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor as part of a contingent of Dutch East Indies officials charged with cleaning up the trading station s entrenched culture of corruption. Though engaged to be married in the Netherlands, he quickly falls in hopeless love with Orito Aibagawa, a Dutch-trained Japanese midwife and promising student of Marinus, the station s resident physician. Their courtship is strained, as foreigners are prohibited from setting foot on the Japanese mainland, and the only relationships permitted between Japanese women and foreign men on Dejima are of the paid variety. Jacob has larger trouble, though; when he refuses to sign off on a bogus shipping manifest, his stint on Dejima is extended and he s demoted, stuck in the service of a vengeful fellow clerk. Meanwhile, Orito s father dies deeply in debt, and her stepmother sells her into service at a mountaintop shrine where her midwife skills are in high demand, she soon learns, because of the extraordinarily sinister rituals going on in the secretive shrine. This is where the slow-to-start plot kicks in, and Mitchell pours on the heat with a rescue attempt by Orito s first love, Uzaemon, who happens to be Jacob s translator and confidant. Mitchell s ventriloquism is as sharp as ever; he conjures men of Eastern and Western science as convincingly as he does the unscrubbed sailor rabble. Though there are more than a few spots of embarrassingly bad writing ( How scandalized Nagasaki shall be, thinks Uzaemon, if the truth is ever known ), Mitchell s talent still shines through, particularly in the novel s riveting final act, a pressure-cooker of tension, character work, and gorgeous set pieces. It s certainly no Cloud Atlas, but it is a dense and satisfying historical with literary brawn and stylistic panache.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
An extraordinary tale fired by the author's wonderful imagination and underpinned by thorough research. The tale is set in 18th century Japan and is a love story set against the background of the seemingly irreconcilable cultures of the Dutch and Japanese. I have to confess that it sagged a bit in the middle but it was well worth persevering. I am looking forward reading it again. It was also a joy to read an entire novel by this brilliant author written in the same style. So often, in his other books, he has offered pieces of exquisite writing with fascinating characters only for them to be dropped or replaced. Given that the replacement character/story was equally fascinating, it seems something of a churlish criticism. But it created in this reader a sense of "look what I can do next".
Anyway that is simply not an issue here - it is great novel, with rounded characters and with a great plot.
Why give one star to a book just because it's expensive?
Surely that is not the issue when rating a book you dunderhead. And the dullard who gave it one star with an arrogant 'enough said' is clearly a moron without the ability to enlarge on his brief, witty and incisive opinion.
Its a wonderful, beautiful book, that I didn't want to end. Read it - you'll love it unless you are a dunderhead, dullard or smug moron.
Book of a thousand memories
A wonderful and gripping story. The book ebbs and flows with natural rhythm, complete characters and masterful literacy.