July rewind

This is a look back at the two, count them, TWO, books I read in July. I didn't have a very good reading month, but that's okay, at least the books were huge-ish. So that's nice. 

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
I think I only bought this because it had something Dutch and something Japanese in it. And I wanted to test out David Mitchell, boy that’s a creepy sentence. I hadn’t read anything else yet, and yes, anyway, I lived in Amsterdam when I bought this, and I like Amsterdam, and I make book-buying decisions based on very slim grounds. This is David Mitchell’s historical fiction thing-a-my-do-hicky. It’s about a young Dutch clerk; Jacob de Zoet who works for the Chief of the Dutch factory Dejima in Nagasaki. He is an honest, stand-up guy, who has gone to Nagasaki with his boss to clean up the corruption in Dejima. While he is there he falls for the young Japanese midwife Orito Aibagawa, who miraculously saved the magistrate’s son when the baby almost died during his birth. Orito has a big burn on the left side of her face, and works with a Dutch doctor, Marinus. The book spans about 20 years of Jacob being in Japan, after he is left there by his former boss (the story is long and complicated), and Orito being taken away by a creepy abbot. I really liked it. The subject doesn’t sound that outstandingly exciting, but his writing is absolutely beautiful. The love story is wonderful and sweet and it spans a long time, and it’s always doomed, and I like doomed stories, because I like authors who follow through and don’t cop out. There is something very impressive about Jacob’s perseverance and persistence and his honesty and morale. And Orito is so wonderful. There are some wonderful side characters, like Doctor Marinus and the deck crew of the ship Jacob arrives in Japan on, like Arie Grote and van Cleef.

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
I had to write some of this when I was sort of halfway through, so I redid it when I finished the book. I had to write it because I was so excited I got a bit overwhelmed. July wasn’t the best month for me, and I was in a reading slump, which I didn’t really mind. Then I was in Helsinki airport, because you know, international woman of mystery, and found a random book called the Troupe. And it sounded brilliant. I think I have some sort of magnetic pull to bookstores, or a problem of some sort. Anyway found a book about vaudeville. I am for some reason drawn to books about performers. It might be because I have no talents in that department myself and I always find people who can capture audiences very impressive. In my weird little brain I tend to think travelling performers are sort of dysfunctional, and it’s fun. The Troupe is about a young man named George Carole who grew up with his grandmother in the sticks of Ohio. He runs away to become a vaudeville pianist, and to look for his father who he believes to be Hieronomo Silenus, the leader of a vaudeville troupe. He finds Silenus and joins the troupe. It turns out that the troupe is not only performing, they are also running from something, and they’re trying to push back the darkness. I don’t know exactly what it is about this book, I think it’s the whole vaudeville thing, and maybe the fact that the main character is absolutely horrible, he’s spoiled, arrogant, mean, cocky. He grows tremendously throughout the book, which is brilliant. The world building is good, there’s no bad info dumping, I think Bennett is a good writer, and the characters are flawed and believable. I like how creepy, and dark, and weird it is. I’ll definitely going to see if I can find more Bennett.