The two albatrosses on the hardcover travel with you till the very end, with double the heaviness of an albatross around your neck. Consider, for instance, a clinical beginning, complete with the most disturbing details of complications during childbirth. And if that isn’t dreary enough, an equally explicit diagram to depict it.
How far removed from the fantasy that a Ken Follett could weave around the same situation, if you remember A Place Called Freedom. But that’s David Mitchell for you. As you sail ahead in the Nagasaki Bay of 1799, you discover young Jacob, who works as an interpreter for the Dutch East India Company, and hopes to return to his love in Holland as a rich man some day. Only, he falls for a young Japanese woman.
The conflict goes on to manifest itself as a clash of East-West ideologies and colonial interests. Period politics pervades the pages, accompanied by solemnity, seclusion, and sentences that sing too long in Old Bookman style. Blah.
The verdict: TOSS