Skip to main content

Review: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, by Jennifer Cody Epstein


Pages: 378
Original date of publication: 2013
My copy: 2013 (Norton)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine program, March 2013

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is set during WWII, and specifically focuses on the American firebombing of Tokyo in 1942 and 1945. We are introduced to Yoshi Kobayashi, the daughter of an expansionist; Cam, a bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Japanese; and Anton, an American architect, who had helped build some of Tokyo’s modern buildings in the 1920s and ‘30s but is enlisted to build test structures for the American air force to practice.

Epstein has chosen an event that rarely gets written about in fiction, yet caused so much devastation at the same time; in the Operation Meetinghouse attack of 1945, 16 square miles of Tokyo were destroyed, approximately 100,000 people were killed, and over a million lost their homes. It was the deadliest air raid of WWII. So I was very interested to read about this lesser-known period of history and witness it through the eyes of these characters—especially Yoshi, who finds herself directly impacted by the 1945 raid. Jennifer Cody Epstein writes beautifully, and her description of what happens to these characters is riveting.


Comments

Marg said…
I have this book to review soon, and now, having read your thoughts I anm looking forward to it even more!
Anna said…
Glad to see you liked it. I'll be reading it soon, and am looking forward to it since I loved The Painter From Shanghai so much.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…