The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

I don’t think I have told you about David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet yet, have I? It’s an epic story of 1799 Japan and Dejima, the section that the foreigners are confined to stay in while trading with, or living in, Japan. And Mitchell creates such a beautiful, intimate, almost longing, portrait of Jacob de Zoet, the Dutch clerk sent out with the Dutch East India Trading Company, that after over 600 pages later, I found myself almost weeping over the last three pages of the novel. Mostly love story, this historical fiction includes a huge array of secondary characters from samurai to slaves, midwives to Masters, Lords and limping, gout ridden Captains. The novel is an extraordinary piece of work by Mitchell. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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