Rated of 5
by chetyarbrough.com Historical Fiction
This book misses the mark of great story telling because David Mitchell fails to develop characters or a theme that sparks enduring interest and memory. Mitchell breaks no new ground in this historical fiction. The story of Japan’s isolation and singular culture is better told by Clavell in “Shogun”. Clavell’s hero, though equally formulaic, successfully cracks the harsh Japanese culture in a more emotive and entertaining story.
Rated of 5
by Valerie A well-written, captivating work of historical fiction
I had a hard time settling into this book, with some of the flowery language turning me off at first. ("...a cacophony of frogs detonates?" Really?) But I kept at it, and I ended up really enjoying the story, at least for the most part.
Jumping right into a Dutch trading settlement on the edge of Japan, the book mostly focuses on Jacob De Zoet, a clerk brought in to sort out corruption in the books. From his perspective, we learn about a time in history I wasn't fully aware of, and it's all quite well-researched to make it seem quite realistic.
The perspective does change from time to time, following some of the secondary characters. Unfortunately, some of this includes jumping back and forth in time, which was a bit disorienting. It took some work to follow the dates and realize the time jumps, which was a bit tedious.
Additionally, there was an awful lot of story-telling by the characters, which fits with the environment but was a little tiresome as well. I wanted to be shown things, not just told about them. The story kept up at a really good pace for most of the book, though towards the end it sort of coasted along towards the end.
Overall though, I would recommend this book, though it is a lengthy read and takes a bit of work to get through. I enjoyed it enough to pursue some of Mitchell's earlier books, which I'd only heard bits about.
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