Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Flamingos and historical Japan

Flamingos at Coton Manor Gardens - do see their website for more garden pictures and link to an appearance on Gardener's World. (No more of my own pics as my camera battery ran out at the wrong moment.) Their wildflower meadow features on BBC1 regularly as a pause filler with added dancing children, by the way.

Last weekend I also went to the Althorp Literary Festival (held at the home of the late Princess Diana) and heard Simon Sebag Montefiore talk about his new book, Jerusalem. Sounds fascinating. 

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell.  Be transported to a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th-century, a worthy young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart.
Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two cultures converge. In a tale of integrity and corruption, passion and power, the key is control - of riches and minds, and over death itself.
I was interested to read about this period of history where Japan, fearing Christianity, had shut itself off from the rest of the world and was living in complete isolation, apart from the tiny trading island of Dejima. This novel is long and complex with lots of characters (fortunately there is a list at the back) Quite hard work for the reader but ultimately worth it. A slight quibble: I did have doubts about the middle section where the Japanese heroine is kidnapped by a baddy and taken to an evil mountain monastery, with samurai sword fights and shades of the Handmaid’s Tale. This detracted faintly from the all too credible events in Dejima. 
Here's a Guardian review.


Debs Carr said...

I love flamingos and used to go to Durrel just to see them.

montyandrosie said...

I love flamingos, too. Absolutely fascinating creatures. Fab pics as usual!