About The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
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.
I haven't read many historical novels covering the war between Japan and America, and The Gods of Heavenly Punishment was the first in a long time to grab my attention.
The author introduces us to characters from both sides of the conflict and makes us care about them all in the lead up to World War II. Admittedly, I didn't know a lot about the Doolittle Raid in 1942 or the Firebombing of Tokyo in 1945, which killed over 100,000 civilians (almost as many as the devastating atomic bombing of Hiroshima).
While The Gods of Heavenly Punishment certainly introduces the reader to these events, the author does so gently and without preaching. The characters' lives on both sides are entwined in a number of subtle ways, with the final link between characters cleverly revealed at the end.
This historical novel had me gripped, made me laugh, had me shuddering at humanity and thinking deeply about the familial relationships. I loved the fact that the novel wasn't tied up with a happy ending for each of the characters and I admired the clever exploration of love beyond physical love.
Recommended for readers of historical fiction, war and deep familial relationships.
My rating = ****
|Author, Jennifer Cody Epstein|
About 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 especially needy Springer Spaniel.
For more information, please visit Jennifer Cody Epstein's website. You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.