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Back to Japan with David Mitchell, this time in the historical setting of the only European port in Japan. Incredibly evocative, his characterization as always is amazing though I did notice that this text wandered a bit from perspective to perspective, not as elegantly and evenly as Cloud Atlas; I missed the thorough grounding in one person's head of Number9 Dream and Black Swan Green, in part because de Zoet was such a wonderful, thoroughly human protagonist. Getting used to how everybody suffers in a Mitchell novel, I was even able to accept the ending, which (unsurprisingly) isn't exactly happy -- closing the book all I could think is that he is by far the most ruthless and uncompromising author I've ever admired, his plots relentlessly allegiant to the raveled edges of real life rather than the conventions of the novel.  

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Mitchell succeeds in this historical novel much in the way that he has in each of other genres he has tackled. A good (if slow at the beginning) story and finely wrought characters combine for a satisfying read. A tale of how fate can seem to rob us of certain types of decisions. Full of gritty detail, it is romantic without being sentimental. 

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All reviews - 178
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