107 of 121 people found the following review helpful
big bold brain-teaser,
This review is from: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)There's little doubt that David Mitchell is one highly special author whose leaps of imagination, literary wit and challenges have found him many fans. And long may he continue to delight and prosper. The literary world needs writers like Mitchell to keep pushing the boundaries. Whether you're going to enjoy the ride is another matter.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a big complex novel that takes some commitment to savour. Indeed it's just as likely that you'll be struggling to get to grips with it after three short chapters as equally half way through - though by then you may just have learnt to live with all its machinations. Part of the problem for the naysayers is Mitchell's master intelligence packing to the paragraph rafters; characters, ideas and historical tributaries. It's like being in a room where everyone's shouting to themselves when all you want to do is find a quite corner for a chat with someone you find interesting.
That analogy makes some sense when there is much reading pleasure to be had here but the best description is that joy only comes in waves: of wonderment and loud sticky trudge. Oh for more of those quiet colourful corners to relax in. The plus, of course, is for those that relish a challenging and undoubtedly intelligent read but that still shouldn't undermine those that do, but fail to grasp Mitchell's multi-layered rooms.
Complex books can often seem a little cold and unforgiving and though there's much delight in having conquered, there's an equal frustration in having been defeated. Yes there is a poetic and beautiful heart beating inside this novel and some will see a lithe and energetic body running with it; others may struggle to get past the supposed blubber.
Sadly, though Mitchell has a master craft, more universal appeal isn't forthcoming yet. But maybe that's as much a cause for celebration.
Treat with unbridled joy / caution.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jun 2010 09:15:33 BDT
Lady Fancifull says:
Hi Monlibu - a fascinating review! As you know I have fallen in love hook line and sinker with this book, but your review steers a good line between the pluses and minuses which were your experience of the book. Your review both gave me pause for thought AND made me laugh as it is nicely witty!
Posted on 10 Oct 2010 05:26:32 BDT
Mary Whipple says:
I was not a huge fan of this book, either, Monlibu, and I did find it much more traditional than his earlier books. That should win him some fans he has not had with his experimental books, but it may lose him the loyalty of some of his long-time fans. Best, Mary
Posted on 18 Nov 2010 11:23:29 GMT
I agree with everything you say, which is kinda annoying, actually, because I still need to review the book myself and you've already written my review!
Posted on 19 Nov 2010 19:40:23 GMT
Extremely thoughtful and helpful review. Thank you so much for actually reviewing the book, giving your thoughtful opinion, instead of showy prose attempting to boast how many books you have read, monlibu! So many reviewers misuse this opportunity to guide readers whether this book will be to their taste.
Posted on 16 Nov 2011 11:39:56 GMT
Cornelius Cornell says:
I agree with this review. I am halfway through this book but I cannot bring myself to finish it because the complexity of it is annoying. In trying to make his writing award-winning, David Mitchell has overdone it, I think. It's a shame, as I do love a good historical novel.
I am sure, however, that many people find this a joy to read. To know is to try, as they say.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Nov 2011 15:33:51 GMT
Cornelius, keep going with it! I felt exactly the same at the halfway stage and was sorry that it had ended when I finished it!
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