A fellow bookworm recommended The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet to me as she knows how much I adore Japan and have a real interest for all things Japanese. I was a bit hesitant at first as I had previously really struggled with Cloud Atlas, the other best seller by David Mitchell, but my love for Japan won over.
For the first 80 pages I feared it was a Cloud Atlas situation all over again, but then suddenly everything clicked for me and from then on I couldn’t put it down. Thousand Autumns is set in the bay of Nagasaki in the late 1700s and tells the story of a Dutch clerk hoping to make his fortune.
Although I love Japan I can’t pretend to be an expert on the history and one of the things I loved about this book was that although it is fiction, you learn so much of the history of the relationship between Japan and the West. It was fascinating to learn about the Dutch trading post and the laws in place to ensure that Japan remained closed to the world and the ignorance of both sides with regards to their cultures.
I just couldn’t get enough of this book as you find yourself chuckling one minute and then highly distressed or nervous with suspense the next. So many of the characters are rough, bigoted and underhanded but we are carried through on the hearts of the three main characters, Jacob de Zoet, Interpreter Ogawa and Orito Aibagawa as Mitchell indulges us by really delving into all three characters, I felt simply bereft when I finished this epic. I’m delighted that Thousand Autumns changed my opinion of Mitchell as an author, I think I’ll definitely look up some of his other works in the future.
All photography taken with my iphone5, imagery belongs to Lilo Loves.