Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 06:17PM
"Stunning and Tragic..."
THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT
by Jennifer Cody Epstein
(W. W. Norton & Company, 2013)
[Kindle & Trade Paperback, 400 pages, $15.95 U.S. - buy for less on Amazon.com]
Wow. Stunning and tragic, indeed.
I knew this book was not going to be a romance novel -- quite suddenly -- at the end of Chapter 3. (No spoilers: not a romance.) There are very few happy endings, but I guess that is to be expected, from a story set mostly in Japan, 1935 - 1945.
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is historical fiction, another WWII novel, but very different: WWII through the glass, darkly, from the perspective of characters, both American and Japanese, in Japan. It is a unique perspective on Japanese-American relations and interaction before, during and after The Day That Will Live In Infamy (December 7, 1941) and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945.
In a novel you can't put down, we follow the deeply interwoven stories of a young Japanese girl, Yoshi Kobayashi, and Billy Reynolds, an American young man born in Japan -- their two families connected by the fathers' construction projects in 1930s Tokyo -- and a brave Army Air Force pilot who participates in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in 1942.
At times gut-wrenching, Jennifer Cody Epstein masterfully includes authentic details from painstaking research, and offers fascinating glimpses of historic figures and events. WWII, again, but with so many facets we never learned about in high school.
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is, in many ways, horrible, but brilliant. Epstein casts a haunting spell, this book will stay with you.
ALSO SEE the Rebel Review of Jennifer Cody Epstein's captivating earlier novel:
THE PAINTER FROM SHANGHAI (2008)
And a feature interview from 2008 on RebelHousewife.com:
Focus on the Author: Jennifer Cody Epstein