I frequently hear from readers, and O. Ray Pardo is someone who more or less regularly emails me about the books he’s enjoyed. He’s an avid reader and friend of the library who lives in Manchester, WA.
Here’s what he has to say about David Mitchell’s newest novel: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
Guest Blog by O. Ray Pardo
Come back to the Japan at the cusp of the 18th and 19th centuries, as the author introduces us to a naive young Dutchman, Jacob de Zoet, and then peels back the onion of his storyline. As the story winds and then rushes to conclusion we meet many different characters, with their individual points of view set in the polyhedron of prejudice, misunderstanding, and geography. This is a story of honor, obligation, isolation, trust, treachery and love. As Jacob discovers the complexity of Japanese culture, and the richness (and darkness) in the lives of those around him, he finds strength and confidence in his upbringing and in his ability to play the game of life. (I especially applaud the bravery of including engravings—so easy in our digital age, but so little used.)
The book is breath-taking in the beauty of its language and printing (do not wait for the paperback).
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Now (this is Nancy again) I began this book with great hopes. I loved Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas, but have had great difficulty in getting into the thick of Jacob de Zoet. Reading Ray’s comments makes me eager to get back to it and try again. It’s so clear to me that so much of what we like or don’t enjoy at any particular time is dependent on our moods. It could have been—it probably was— that I was looking for something that was a bit faster moving. Or at least something different than what Mitchell was giving me.
Ray also asked me for suggestions of what to read next, and—naturally—I changed continents and centuries by suggesting the two historical series by Dorothy Dunnett. Anyone have any other suggestions?