This copy of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell is taken from my parents house. (Thanks Mum and Dad). I am midway through reading it at the moment and I am hooked. The content of the first few pages will stay with me until my dying day. It was a sunny Saturday morning reading in bed and I was not prepared for the graphic description and small medical illustration that awaited me. Luckily I am fascinated by that kind of stuff and have continued to devour this engrossing novel.
A Brief Synopsis
The story takes place in Nagasaki Harbour, Japan and the year is 1799. Jacob de Zoet is a young clerk, arriving after voyaging from Holland. He is to begin to working for the Dutch trading company operating out of the artificial island Dejima. We learn all the struggles of a foreign company running out of 18th Century Japan. How their cultural differences hinder trade relations and how everyone seams to exploit everyone else regardless of race. Dejima is busy and mean and prosperous, there are temptations and traps. Plenty for our young clerk to learn.
Alongside the chief, the clerks, the sailors, the traders, and the interpreters, there is also Dr Marinus, his medical students and Miss Aibigawa, the midwife. The descriptions of medical procedures in this book are some of the most tense reading moments I have endured. I still have half the book left to read, so no doubt there is more of this to come. Things have really started to heat up in the story now and our characters are in more than a spot of trouble.
Book Cover Design
The book it’s self is compelling. God damn I love looking at it, even if this copy is a bit battered. I love the greeny-blue hue which works perfectly for both sea and sky. I am a big fan of a reduced colour pallet, so this is right up my street. You can’t tell from these pictures really, but there is some foiled detailing that really makes it pop. The turbulent sea and sky tell me our protagonist will not be having an easy time of it.
If you are thinking of purchasing a copy and you are book cover lover like me, I recommend this one. This edition was illustrated by the talented Joe Wilson and published by Sceptre Books.