Friday, September 10, 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Isolated. David Mitchell uses each of the almost 500 pages of his new historical novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, to draw readers into the setting, characters and plot. The setting is Nagasaki, Japan at the beginning of the 19th century when that country was cut off from the rest of the world by its own policies. Protagonist de Zoet arrives as a clerk at the Dutch trading outpost on a quarantined island named Dejima in 1799. His first job is in forensic accounting to uncover fraud against the Dutch East India Company by its local employees. His principled, but isolated stance against his new boss leads him toward personal setbacks. Instead of spending six years in Japan, he lives there for twenty. The supporting cast of characters is rich, and Mitchell develops each with precision and skill. The plot has enough twists to keep readers alert, and the poetic writing makes the scenes come alive. Any reader who likes historical fiction and fine writing will find much to enjoy in this novel.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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