So, I think the honor of my first book review posted on my new blog will be my current all time favorite book The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoit by David Mitchell. It should have won the 2010 Man Booker, but it lost out to The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. Honestly, I can't actually say that Thousand Autumns is better since I have not read The Finkler Question, but I doubt seriously that it can hold a candle to Thousand Autumns. I will blog on the differences between FQ and TA when I get around to reading FQ.
From Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7141642-the-thousand-autumns-of-jacob-de-zoet
I absolutely loved this book! I have been thinking for several hours whether this book deserved 5 stars. I know I will read it again, maybe even more than once and I am about to place all Mitchell's other books on my to read list - thus I am calling it a 5 star book.
It is a story of a young Dutchman who believes he is to work as a clerk for the Dutch Indies Company at a port in Japan for several years so he can make his fortune and then come home to marry the love of his life. Its just that it did not happen quite like that.
How do you describe this book? I liken it to a fantastic meal at a restaurant with a well trained chef. The first bite takes your breath away, the second you try to savor letting all of the well blended seasonings sit and melt in your mouth. You struggle not to wolf the meal down as it is so good, yet you have to force yourself to slow down to enjoy the rich bliss of it all.
This was not an easy book to read and maybe that is one of the reasons I liked it so much. At first I had trouble keeping up with the characters and had to make a cheat sheet of who everyone was. Additionally I found that there were many words that I did not understand - too many to skim over and assume I knew what they meant. This is where I think the Nook really enhanced the reading of the book for me. Every word that I did not know I would "push" so I could look up the definition. The other thing the Nook allowed me to do was search for someone's name if I had forgotten who they were. Until the cheat sheet I searched often.
I really loved the story and the telling of the story. Mitchell made the descriptions stand out vividly. One of my favorite parts was just the beautiful way he described a persimmon and the circumstances surrounding his receiving it. His writing was so vivid that I truly felt the cold of the floor and the surroundings of the Mt. Shiranui Shrine. Okay, maybe it was because of the snow we had here, but I remember feeling so cold while reading about the mountain shrine and its inhabitants.
I enjoyed the unexpected twists and turns. I never felt like I knew what was going to happen next. On several occasions I was dumbfounded by what I just read and could not believe that the story took the twist that it just had. I liked the way the author would wrap a tidbit of information that he gave out early in the book and then deposited it nicely later in the story.
I also just liked the character Jacob de Zoet. I liked his integrity and passion for God and his homeland. Matter of fact, I liked many of the characters and disliked many. I am not literary enough to know if the character development was weak or strong, but I really liked many of the characters and did not care for others.
I do wish that the author had not tied everything up a the end and had left himself room to continue the story. I sure would read a sequel...