HFVBT Review- The God’s of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Paperback Publication: January 13, 2014

Publisher:  W.W. Norton & Company

Pages:  400

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Source:  HFVBT & Publisher


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.

My Review:

This is a story that will bring to light so much that as American students, we didn’t know as much detail about: the 1945 bombing in Tokyo, the Americans who were pretty much sent on suicide missions because they didn’t have enough gas fuel to bring them to safety, and the horrible camps that the surviving pilots had to endure.

1962.  Having never been to Tokyo before, it was quite detailing and horrific, that it made me feel as if I was there alongside the author and her characters.

What I loved most, was that in the midst of such turmoil, tragedy, and destruction, that love and hope prevails.  Both sides of the war are shown: the lives of those in America (past and present day), and those in Tokyo (past and present).  The story does fluctuate between past/present, lapsed years, and the lives of Americans and Japanese characters in the storylines.  It is interesting to see how they all become connected and that hope is what brings people together, weaving through the lives of others.

It’s a very slow book, with many characters and events, but the author does this in a way that  helps the reader understand what’s going on, despite that.  It’s a great read for those who love war history, historical fiction, relationships about love and resiliency, and even to just read a story of a war, with a different point of view.

*This book was provided by HFVBT and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.



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.

Visit Jennifer Cody Epstein

website /blog /Facebook / Twitter.

The Tour Schedule:

Monday, January 6 Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 7 Review & Giveaway at Found Between the Covers

Wednesday, January 8 Review at Lit Nerd

Thursday, January 9 Review at From L.A. to LA

Friday, January 10 Review & Giveaway at Drey’s Library Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Monday, January 13 Review at Jorie Loves a Story Review at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, January 14 Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, January 15 Review at CelticLady’s Reviews Review at Cozy Up with a Good Read

Thursday, January 16 Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, January 17 Review at Doing Dewey Review at Reading the Ages

Monday, January 20 Review at bookramblings Review at Carpe Librum Interview & Giveaway at Doing Dewey

Tuesday, January 21 Review at Books in the Burbs

Praise for The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

“Epstein’s second novel (after The Painter from Shanghai) is bursting with characters and locales. Yet painful, authentic (Epstein has lived  and worked in Asia), and exquisite portraits emerge of the personal  impact of national conflicts—and how sometimes those conflicts can be  bridged by human connections.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is a page-turner thanks to its  high-stakes adventure, torrid love affairs and characters so real they  seem to follow you around. And in the end, this gripping novel asks us  not just to consider a lost chapter of a famous war but also to explore  what it means to be lucky—and what it means to be loved.” (Amy Shearn,  Oprah.com)

“The Gods of Heavenly Punishment showcases war’s bitter ironies…as well as its romantic serendipities.” (Megan O’Grady, Vogue)

“With stunning clarity, Epstein has re-created Tokyo both before and  after the bombing in a novel that raises still-unanswered questions  about the horrors of war, the cruelty associated with it and the lasting impression it can make on a person, a people or a place.”  (Shelf-Awareness.com)

“An epic novel about a young Japanese girl during World War II  underscores the far-reaching impact that the decisions of others can  have.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Sweeping….[A] harrowing novel of destruction and creation that will  appeal to fans of historical fiction” (Library Journal—starred review)

Don’t forget to enter my book giveaway!!

2 thoughts on “HFVBT Review- The God’s of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

  1. I was fascinated by this book too because I didn’t know anything about what happened in Tokyo during the war. And it was interesting how the characters come together. Have you read The Painter From Shanghai? I can’t decide which of Epstein’s books I loved more!


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