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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Paperback – Mar 8 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (March 8 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676979300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676979305
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 8 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harrison Koehli TOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 30 2011
Format: Paperback
From the first chapter, I was hooked. Mitchell has a way of making mood and sense of place tangible, and from those opening pages, I was transported. To the places, the time, and the characters' inner worlds. I didn't know what to expect when I started this book, not having read any of Mitchell's works before. But I don't have a single negative thing to say about this book. It moved me, gripped me with suspense, made me laugh, consult my dictionary, and really appreciate this man's way with words. I agree with other reviewers that, yes, it is an 'entertainment', not necessarily a masterpiece, but the characters are so well presented - their dialogue, uniqueness, flaws, and virtues - and the plot so well-executed that it doesn't really matter. And the final pages were perfect. It's just a great book, all around.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eric D. Nixon on Jan. 11 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of David Mitchell since Ghostwritten came out more than a decade ago. I await every new novel with a total sense of wonder, curious to find out what new direction he will take, what stylistic challenge he'll attempt, and how he will astound me anew.

With "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," he has amazed me once again. In many ways, it reminds you of a classic 19th century novel, rich in description, characterization, language, and storytelling. However, not being a fan of historic novels myself, it really didn't matter, because, once I started the book, I was putty in Mitchell's hands.

This book is so rich and wonderful, it begs you to take your time and absorb each and every word, while driving you forward with spectacular storytelling. Pick up this book when you have time to spare, plan to take a week or two and rediscover what great writing is all about.

David Mitchell has been called a genius. I will go further and call him the best novelist writing today.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wide-sweeping historical fiction which opens our eyes to the late 18th/early 19th centuries in a land which has changed so dramatically; as well as the fiction of benevolent colonialism.
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