Sunday, May 15, 2011
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
In 1800, a Dutch man encounters the closed Japanese society.
This novel is about Jacob De Zoet, exiled to the Dutch colony off Japan in order to make a fortune. His fortune making is interrupted by his fascination with the scarred young Japanese woman learning to be a midwife. Therefore, I suppose this is a historical novel, so in addition to the pleasure of the story, we will also learn something about Japanese history.
I seriously considered bailing on around page 50, did so on page 90. Part of it may have been my American addiction to dramatic tension, and part of it may have been that it was taking too terribly long to to set up the story. Although I felt we were headed in the right direction, with the vivid introduction of the two lovers in two wonderfully written set pieces. But then we got pages and pages and pages of hundreds of characters speaking in a sprightly manner about things expository or bills of lading. I just was not keeping track of anyone of them and only wanted to get back to the lovers, though Jacob seemed a milquetoast.
To me, it was like watching stick figures placed on a diorama. Zzz.