David Mitchell is a extraordinary writer and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a fantastic book. The story is set in 1799. Jacob de Zoet is a clerk working for the Dutch East India Company on the island of Dejima, an artificial island in the bay of Nagasaki, Japan. Japan is in the Edo period, an isolationist, feudal society ruled by the shogun. The Dutch traders are restricted to Dejima; Christianity is forbidden.
In the small world of the Dutch traders, Jacob is an honest man encountering corruption and double-dealing as he undertakes an audit of the company's books. The story draws in Edo society when Jacob meets and becomes infatuated with a beautiful, but scarred, Japanese midwife who has been allowed to receive some training from the Dutch physician. After the midwife's father dies, she is sold by her step-mother to pay off family debts. The beautiful midwife is now a prisoner to the abbot of a secretive mountain shrine where some bad stuff is going on. Can she be rescued?
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is historical fiction at its very best; or if you think you don't care for historical fiction, then just know that it is fiction at its very best. Often funny and told with rich language and wonderful word choice, the plot flies along with exciting twists and turns all the way to the end. This is one of those books that completely pulls you into its bubble. I loved it; I wish the story wasn't over.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell is highly recommended reading.