One summer night in prewar Japan, eleven-year-old Billy Reynolds takes snapshots at his parent’s dinner party. That same evening his father Anton–a prominent American architect–begins a torrid affair with the wife of his master carpenter. A world away in New York, Cameron Richards rides a Ferris Wheel with his sweetheart and dreams about flying a plane. Though seemingly disparate moments, they will all draw together to shape the fate of a young girl caught in the midst of one of WWII’s most horrific events–the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo.
Exquisitely rendered, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the stories of families on both sides of the Pacific: their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses–and their shared connection to one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.
(Synopsis and book cover image provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)
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Initially I struggled to feel comfortable with the slow forward progress in this story. However, once the characters began to align, the plot unfolded a little more, and a variety of interactions between characters arose I was intrigued by developing story line and the author’s detailed research with respect to Tokyo during WWII and the aircraft used in its bombing.
Additionally, Epstein researches so well that the disturbing details of the aftermath of war and its egregious battles and treatments became mental images for me. Epstein is an exceptional crafter of scenes and images.
However, the layering of the impact this world, time and war would have on the girl, Yoshi’s, life becomes overshadowed by random scenes and dialogue and sex scenes that seemed unnecessary to the central theme of the book: the universal experience of loss in war not because we necessarily hate the people our country opposes but because we lack an understanding of who they are and what they stand for, their culture and traditions, and likewise they don’t understand us or our culture and traditions.
Finally, those who suffer the most in war are those who are left to pick up the pieces and carry on. This is where Yoshi is left.
Lovers of historical fiction, especially centered around World War II and particularly Japan, will enjoy this book. If you like to read a story that spotlights a character who has the grit to rise above circumstances, you will enjoyThe Gods of Heavenly Punishment.
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Meet the Author:
Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and the international bestseller, The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and an especially needy Springer Spaniel.
(Bio and image provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)
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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:
Paperback Publication Date: January 13, 2014
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback: 400 pp
I received a copy of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment from the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions and recommendations expressed are my own.
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Tagged: Adult Fiction, America, bombing of Tokyo, Book Giveaway, book review, Doolittle Raids, giveaway, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Tour, Japan, Jennifery Cody Epstein, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, Tokyo, World War II, WWII