Customer Reviews for

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 94 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted July 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Superb

    David Mitchell is definitely one of the best authors around. This one is quite different from his other books, but is still an intriguing tale set in a very interesting time of feudal Japan. It's fascinating how that society interacts with the Dutch and how they somewhat peacefully co-exist on Dejima. Mitchell has a fascinating way of getting you to believe in the characters from speaking from their point of view (Jacob, Orito, Penhaligon, Ogawa). Now I just have to wait another 4 years for his next one!

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2010

    Equal Parts Page-Turner and Work of Art

    Even more of a work of art if you get the UK hardcover edition -- beautiful cover, and far more evocative of the story than the U.S. version. I loved this book for its cinematic, poetic, adventurous, historical and fanciful qualities, all there in equal measure. You can find a wordy description of the plot elsewhere -- my purpose in writing is to urge you to allow yourself to be put under David Mitchell's spell and enjoy this amazing book.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Another gem from David Mitchell

    David Mitchell is one of the best contemporary authors writing. No one supercedes his storytelling talents and his ability to draw fully realized, complex characters. "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob Zoet" is another gem, following the experiences of Jacob de Zoet on a small man-made island that is an outpost of the Dutch East Indies Company off teh coast of Nagasaki Japan at the turn of the 19th century. Time is a major theme in the novel, as Mitchell uses unique devices to remind the reader of the relentless march of time (the number of full bottles of alcohol remaining at a poker game, the bells of Nagasaki marking the hours, a sailor on a ship marking the depth of the water) as we mortals try to navigate our way in the inexorable evolution of the world and society. The choices that Jacob makes throughout his life have profound impacts on his own future, but also on Nagasaki society and British-Japanese relations. The characters, story and setting are richly illuminated, and hte outcomes fantastic, yet totally believable. I was saddened, like with all truly great books, when I finished the novel, and realized that I would have to wait through an indeterminate hiatus until the next Mitchell jewel.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2010

    Mitchell has reminded me why he's my favorite contemporary author

    've been saying for years that David Mitchell is one one of my favorite authors, but with yeas passing since I read (or re-read) his work, I forgot why. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet reminded me.

    This book is much more of a traditional novel than Mitchell's other works, which probably leans more toward being a good thing than a bad thing--it doesn't have the gimmicky feel of some of his other books. Mitchell remains true to his avant garde voice--the "gulls..." passage near the end of the book, for instance, is phenomenal, and begs to be read out-loud.

    Mitchell's storytelling is incredible, the characters real. (For the most part, I was a little annoyed that the alignment of a character on the side of "good" or "bad" could be discerned by their attitudes towards slavery and Christianity) The story lines were all engrossing, and, without giving anything away, the ending had me in tears.

    That being said, the first part was a bit slow, and I had a hard time keeping the names and characters straight. By the time the second part rolled around, though, I had a hard time putting it down.

    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is, in my opinion, Mitchell's best book so far. It's one that I look forward to re-reading, and am already vigorously recommending to family and friends.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I enjoyed this so much I am now reading David Mitchell's other novels

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book - the story being wonderfully creative, the characters memorable and the writing, well, gorgeous for the lack of a better word. For "literary fiction" this was a page-turner that I read over the course of several days while on vacation.

    Since finishing this book I have read "Number 9 Dream" and have almost finished "Ghostwritten" and have found that Mr. Mitchell is a wildly creative/inventive writer who seems to be able to write "different" books every time - unlike so many other writers that do the same story/style every time they publish a new book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2011

    Beautiful and memorable.

    This is a truly extraordinary historical novel. It takes place in Japan at the end of the 18th century, a time when Japan was intentionally isolating itself from the outside world.

    Sound off-putting, and just too foreign? No, don't let the setting or the strange title discourage you from opening this book. (Japan is the "Land of a Thousand Autumns," Jacob is a young Dutchman a world away from his homeland.) It is a fascinating tale, written with beauty and clarity. And, it's exciting. My guess is, if you loved "Doctor Zivago," you'll probably love "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2013

    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is the fifth novel by awar

    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is the fifth novel by award-winning British author, David Mitchell, who classifies it as historical fiction. Jacob de Zoet is a young Dutch clerk, a Zeelander working for the Dutch East India Company, on a five-year clerical post to Java, where he hopes to make his fortune in order to marry his Dutch sweetheart. He arrives in Nagasaki with the new Chief Resident-elect of Dejima, an island enclave to which the Dutch traders are confined. Soon after his arrival, he encounters a young Japanese midwife with whom he promptly falls in love. Mitchell slowly and carefully crafts his plot to reach a dramatic climax. Mitchell’s potted histories of his characters contribute to their depth and appeal, as well as developing the plot. His dialogue sounds genuine, especially the rendering of translated language. Mitchell gives the reader a fascinating peek into the world that was European trade with Japan in the late 18th century. This was a world filled with corruption, bribery, execution and religious persecution. De Zoet learns the diplomacy and the political tactics necessary in dealing with the Japanese, and that men of honour and integrity are few and far between. This novel makes the historical facts, which might have been dry and unpalatable, interesting and easy to assimilate. De Zoet is loosely based on Hendrick Doeff, one of Dejima’s real Chief Residents. Mitchell does bend a few historical facts: the incident on which the climax is based actually happened somewhat later; the reference by characters in 1799 to the mass eradication of Tasmanian aborigines is premature; nonetheless, this does not detract from the novel in any way. Some of the prose is truly beautiful: Mitchell manages to be quite lyrical about clouds and weather; there are also several charming illustrations. This is a brilliant novel and easily the best I have read in a long time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Fantastic

    Will stick with you long after reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012

    Best book in a while.

    This book was recommended on an NPR radio show and so I thought I would give it a try. Glad I did. Very well written.

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  • Posted December 14, 2011

    Fascinating

    Great character development and storyline. Looking forward to reading more by this author.

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  • Posted November 19, 2011

    His finest work to date.

    Mitchell is one of my favorite authors and has been since i first read "Ghostwritten" many years ago. The "Thousand Autumns..." is in my opinion Mitchell's finest achievement to date. His command of language is as always stunning and a pleasure to experience, but equally important and amazing is his ability to portray characters from diverse cultures in a way that is true to their reported culture and yet which fully portrays their common humanity as well. I suspect that he must truly fall in love with each of his many characters as he creates them and it is that love which brings them to life and which shines through what he has them do and say. And having mentioned the word love, it is love that is particularly on display in this novel and not in any simplistic or hackneyed way. It is a study of humanity that truly rewards the reader as he lives it along with the characters of this book. I look forward to reading his next novel whenever it may appear.

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    Posted November 24, 2010

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