David Mitchell is a very good writer. The story is set on a tiny island, Dejima, near Nagasaki, an outpost of the Dutch East India Company in 1799. The Dutch have very little contact with the Japanese but Jacob manages to fall for a Japanese midwife, Orito. Orito is imprisoned in a distant mountain shrine. A British ship, sailing under a Dutch flag, attacks Dejima. Jacob’s courage and loyalty impress all, including the Japanese.
Dejima and the attack by the British ship are fact.