Paperback Publication: January 13, 2014
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
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.
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.
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
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
Tuesday, January 14 Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Thursday, January 16 Review at The Lit Bitch
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)