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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Readers Recommend

Posted 1.11.12

"The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Random House, 2010) by David Mitchell was a volume I purchased on a whim. I had previously read Mitchell's 2004 novel Cloud Atlas (Random House) and was not very impressed by it, but the glowing review from Dave Eggers on the Thousand Autumns cover gave me a great deal of hope. I probably would have liked the book from the start if I had not read the cover copy, but burdened with this information, I found the book very hard to read initially. In fact, I stopped half way through. I had developed a great deal of compassion for the main character and the Japanese midwife he was attracted to. According to the back of the book, something terrible would happen, morally speaking, and I was concerned that I would find this upcoming twist unbelievable, or unbearable. However, after putting the book down for four months, I returned to it and found myself reading it compulsively. The twist I feared never came, the warning on the back was false. The book instead became more and more preoccupied with faith, a word not even mentioned on the back. Thousand Autumns has stayed with me in a way few modern books do, the names of characters bringing the same smile to my face as the names of old friends do. The writing is elegant, memorable, and strangely charming. The story is unlike any you would commonly encounter in contemporary literature."

—Caitlin Thomson from New York, New York

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