I have finished David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
As with any Mitchell novel, it is a bummer when it ends. There won't be another for awhile.
I hate historical novels. I'm not really into war craft and ships and munitions and copper trading and bookkeeping. But I was into all of that in this novel. All of it. What does this tell you about Mitchell's storytelling prowess?
I was less into the Atwood-esque impregnate-nuns-against-their-will at the convent situation. And the ninja-style attempt to rescue them.
The other stuff was so good. Why add on to it?
The writing was so beautiful in parts it hurt. Literally hurt.
But that convent-baby stuff was really killing my vibe.
Who can do what Mitchell has done? Each novel is entirely different in tone, in structure, in subject matter. It is mind-blowingly impressive and I adore him for it.
But...the baby stuff? It took me so far out of the story, so out of everything that was mesmerizing and fast-paced and oh-my-goodness-what-will-happen-next. It was not needed.
That British/Dutch/de Zoet not backing down stuff at the end was nuts. Brilliant the way you kept hoping that one thing (you know, with the 200 boats and the sails down and the maybe fire situation?) would actually materialize but it didn't and the anticipation of that was masterful storytelling. I fell for all of it. I loved every minute of falling for it.
I even got all wrapped up in the do the right thing meme. I was rooting for small countries and republics and good people to prevail. I never go for that stuff, but I did.
But. Yeah. That weirdo interlude at the convent distracted me something awful. And I still don't really even get it. Where did all the babies go? Huh?
It was not a perfect novel for me. I purposely did not read any reviews prior to reading the novel. I will do so now and will probably find that I'm the lone ass who simply didn't "get it" and that this is the most perfect novel ever written. I'm okay with that. It jumped all over the place, was disjointed, tried too hard to be filmic and other weird stuff I can't quite pin down just yet. I know Cloud Atlas was like that but...it had to be. That was the point of the story. Jacob de Zoet, on the other hand, was linear narrative that jumped and cut too much for me. The jump cuts didn't add to the storytelling for me, they distracted.I kept thinking "Oh look what he's doing there, he's taking us back to the crazy baby convent place...hopefully this will be brief so we can cut back to the story. Oh look, here we go..." Maybe I'm getting old.
As for Mitchell? I'll read whatever that man writes. Period. He's that good.