It takes a special writer to produce an epic novel Epic and sweeping imply a great breadth of a story line in terms of both time and characters Jennifer Cody Epstein deserves kudos for her new novel, The Gods of the Heavenly Punishment , which takes the reader from Tokyo 1935 to Los Angeles 1962, with characters who are as different as Japanese and Americans can be in that era The unifying point of the novel is a green ring that survives both love and war and brings those two different peoples together.Jennifer Epstein concentrates on relationships in her story Oh, yes, there are large events like the 1945 fire bombing of Tokyo that destroyed most of the city, and, earlier, the Doolittle raid in 1942 That raid, flown by brave US army airmen, struck the first blow after Pearl Harbor on the Japanese home island Many of the planes didn t have enough fuel to return safely to the ships they had taken off from and crashed into Japanese controlled mainland China Their crews, the ones who survived the crashes, were often captured, tortured, and sometimes put to death by their Japanese captors But Epstein looks at the relationships in both the American and Japanese home fronts and how the Doolittle raid and the fire bombing and the fighting devastated lives in both places.But if Epstein examines war, she also looks at the peacetime which preceded and succeeded the war The prewar years in both countries was a time when the protagonists met and, sometimes, fell in love Some fell in lust, and some just fell into relationships that differed from any they had experienced before The post war period, too, produced changes in character s lives losses and uncertainties were acknowledged and somehow made right.Epstein s main characters, Yoshi, Bill, Lacy, lived and experienced the horrors of WW2 in different lands They all lost loved ones, as did millions of people world wide But the history, and the promise, of a small green ring brought them all together This is quite a story I think most readers will be quite affected by it I know I was. I had a chance to review this book on Fiction Addict You can get great fiction recommendations there Here is the review.As I read The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, I felt as if I was slowly flipping through an album of snapshots showing an amazing period of history We often think when looking at our friends snapshots, if only these pictures could tell me their story In this case, Jennifer Cody Epstein had the characters step out of their pictures to tell their stories These snapshots of history take us from pre World War II peace to the horrors of war and then on to survivors seeking peace after the war.The story revolves around three families whose lives interweave and connect in varied ways We see a shy young man named Cam who stumbles into love, marries his girlfriend Lacy, and becomes a pilot we watch a bright young Japanese girl, Yoshi, and her family as she grows up we catch Billy, the young American boy who grew up in Japan, as he begins learning to use his new camera As time goes on, Cam says goodbye to his wife and infant son to join the Army Air Force and participates in the raid on Tokyo as a member of Doolittle s Raiders Yoshi s father, a builder, aids the Japanese army in Manchuria as the Japanese war machine builds its overwhelming army, while she stays at home dealing with her mother Meanwhile, Billy s father helps the American military prepare for the devastating fire bombing of Tokyo, while Billy becomes an intelligence officer utilizing his knowledge of the Japanese language and culture As the story winds down we discover how each of these characters has survived and overcome the hardships they dealt with during the war.This is not the kind of book that I would normally choose to read, but I took a chance on it because it is from an era of history that I love Japan and the time just before, during and after World War II The characters truly come to life and I found myself entrenched in their lives as I read Part of the reason is I felt that the story was historically accurate and dealt with the nitty gritty aspects of their lives As the firebombing of Tokyo was about to begin I wanted to yell at Yoshi to find a way to hide, hoping that she would survive the bombing to come As Epstein told the horrific story of the firebombing, I could almost smell the smoke and feel the heat of the flames as they engulfed the city She captured the essence of the Japanese spirit, as I understand it, in the immediate aftermath of the bombing as we saw not only the shock, but also the determination of the people to survive and overcome this cataclysm This is just one example of how she brings her characters to life and draws the reader into the story.Perhaps even interesting to me was the subtlety of the symbolism throughout the book The story is told in linguistic snap shots and photography plays an important part of the story line involving Billy especially in his interactions with Yoshi Another major symbol basically brings the story in a complete circle that connects Yoshi and Lacy as it appears throughout the book As I think back on how Epstein put together these literary snapshots I can only marvel at how much of the story was told by what was not written As a reader I was forced to use my imagination to fill in the blanks Even still, there were times when I was left wanting Having read enough books where I said, Enough already this was an interesting change.I loved the book I am looking forward to reading books by Jennifer Cody Epstein in days to come. Chilling, absorbing, unique, humorous and heart breaking All those adjectives come to mind when I think to describe Jennifer Cody Epstein s book The God s of Punishment It s part historical account churned with love stories and family dysfunction It s character driven in the most powerful of ways This is a book I will remember among the many this year.I have read several accounts of the war between America and Japan, but none so specifically personal as this one The characters are captivating as immediate relationships with the reader are cultivated The impact of their stories is both devastating in parts and heart tugging I found each of them immensely engaging some endearing, and some stone cold hateful The humorous moments take one by surprise in several instances Either way, it was as if I couldn t tear my eyes away from them.This is a novel told in sections from the perspectives of the different nationalities countries and characters, which gives it an even significant impact Because of the way Epstein chose to structure her story, I was sympathetic to both sides, as well as to the neutral view War in all it s human drama was staggering in her hands, sometimes brutal and sometimes drawing out the best in people with love The Gods of Punishment is a show stopper of a book You won t be able to put it down once you start reading It halted my life for hours I recommend this book to everyone without reservation It s a very adult book in the sense that it s written with intelligence and aplomb You can t help but be taken in by its significance and engaging quality I loved it 5 stars Deborah TheBookishDame A lush and eloquent portrait of humanity This heartbreaking, sensual and suspenseful novel opened my eyes to some grim and also inspiring realities about the second World War As with her previous novel, The Painter From Shanghai, Jennifer Cody Epstein has done extensive research and manages to convey details with a masterful touch Read this book I ve said it before and I ll say it again Learning new things is my favorite part about reading This book opened my eyes to the events in Japan both before and after WWII The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is told from the point of view of a young Japanese girl, certainly like nothing I ve read before.The characters lives are interconnected in interesting, yet plausible, ways The men and women that people this story are convincing and genuine Days after reading this I can t stop thinking of them.This book offers an unflinching look at the horrors of war You ll find yourself holding your breath during the firebombing of Tokyo Cody Epstein doesn t focus on the atrocities as much as on the relationships between people devastated by the events.Ambitious and breathtaking, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is not to be missed. Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at Cody Epstein s The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is unlike any WWII fiction I ve ever picked up In many ways it is a personal story, driven by individual experiences, but at the same time it is a war story, shaped by the contention of two nations vying to defeat one another.As far as favorite character, it is a toss up between Hana and Anton Hana is glamorous, intelligent, but emotionally complex From the beginning it is clear her story will be marred by tragedy, but I couldn t help being drawn to her, couldn t help hoping her story would have a happy ending Then there is Anton Other characters are affected by the war, directly or indirectly, but no one else suffers such emotional conflict and inner turmoil as the American architect whose legacy is built into the Tokyo skyline Neither Hana nor Anton is what I would call admirable, but these flawed characters the kind who aren t black and white, the kind who aren t easy to understand, the kind prone to very realistic failings these are the kind that make great fiction.But good characters are only the beginning For instance, I really loved how Epstein applied the six degrees of separation concept in this piece Her cast is divided by background and culture, but each member plays an important role and represents something different in Yoshi s journey I ve encountered the concept in fiction before, but rarely have I seen it done with such artistry and depth as I found here.Before I close, I d like to offer a word of caution to sensitive readers The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is a work of historic fiction and Epstein is one of those admirable writers who isn t intimidated by period appropriate terminology Personally I admire Epstein s candor, but for those who are less inclined to appreciate her dedication to historical accuracy, consider yourself warned as this book utilizes language considered both inappropriate and offensive in the modern age.The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tackles some heavy subject matter infidelity, post traumatic stress disorder, prejudice, war crimes, etc , but in the end the book is a beautiful story about survival, hope, and the courage it takes to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. It was an interesting and emotional book, but the abundancy of times, places and characters made me feel a bit dizzy and I lost he flow of the book Just after I have read that a half of the book I started to feel it and kind of understand it Overall, it is not a bad book, but I have read another books from this author and this is not her best I probablly will not recomment it. The horrendous atrocities of war and the delicate strength of the human spirit are all wrapped up in this novel about the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT is a work of art and beauty and I will read it again to ease the tensions which continue to cross my mind and disrupt my awareness I dare you to read this and not be swept up THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT is shocking and delicate in equal measure Debra Dean, author, of THE MADONNAS Of LENINGRAD on the book jacket This is the story of Yoshi and how war and a host of people will direct her experience of war and lead to her survival She is the daughter of a Japanese builder who has worked with an Architect to change the skyline of Tokyo Yep Frank Lloyd Wright s Imperial Hotel is part of the story and her mother who is the granddaughter of a Samurai Warrior who has a troubled past she speaks many languages fluently It is the story of the architect who builds the new vision, then works on its destruction and how he knows Yoshi It is the story of Cam a fighter pilot who has wanted to fly an airplane his whole life he is one of the downed pilots after an initial bombing raid On this list of Yoshi s journey, I must include Billy who was born in Japan and returns as an occupation soldier for the rebuilding process.I do not read the book covers or the promo pages that come with the tour book I agree to review I find that those words often color the read for me and I think they often tell far too much of the story line and cancel my minds ability to imagine and discover I quite often read each book twice, as I did for THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT The second read looks through eyes of what research the author acknowledges and the personal notes on hopes and expectations for the book and thanks to the editors and publishers This novel was extensively researched and then rendered with a divine stroke of the pen to give the reader a crystal understanding faceted with elegance and grace The book jacket uses the word meditation to describe this story telling and I would have to agree All the shocking horror of war and that experience is right there and in one page you know it, and by the next page the reader is moving on and integrating the disgust and shock into the child s growth and understanding How could we ever have another war This story does not leave the mind it stays put of the review on Patricias Wisdom Sometimes characters stick with you and that is the case with those in this Novel A bit predictable in some areas, but offers a fresh perspective on prewar Japan through architecture and airmen Americans in Japan and Japanese in America before and after war A guy should learn something, he d written to Lacy, about a place he s about to bomb I agree.Provided by publisher. In This Evocative And Thrilling Epic Novel, Fifteen Year Old Yoshi Kobayashi, Child Of Japan S New Empire, Daughter Of An Ardent Expansionist And A Mother With A Haunting Past, Is On Her Way Home On A March Night When American Bombers Shower Her City With Napalm An Attack That Leaves One Hundred Thousand Dead Within Hours And Half The City In Ashen Ruins In The Days That Follow, Yoshi S Old Life Will Blur Beyond Recognition, Leading Her To A New World Marked By Destruction And Shaped By Those Considered The Enemy Cam, A Downed Bomber Pilot Taken Prisoner By The Imperial Japanese Army Anton, A Gifted Architect Who Helped Modernize Tokyo S Prewar Skyline But Is Now Charged With Destroying It And Billy, An Occupation Soldier Who Arrives In The Blackened City With A Dark Secret Of His Own Directly Or Indirectly, Each Will Shape Yoshi S Journey As She Seeks Safety, Love, And Redemption
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- 384 pages
- The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
- Jennifer Cody Epstein
- 09 May 2018 Jennifer Cody Epstein