Category: Shelf Awareness

Blog Book Tour | “Scent of Triumph” by Jan Moran A Historical Biographical Fiction novel rooted in fashion, parfum, France, and a legacy through time through the threads of love and passion!

Posted Wednesday, 22 April, 2015 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: Winning a contest adverted through “Shelf Awareness for Readers” bi-weekly newsletter, April 2015. I received the hardcover book direct from the publisher St. Martin’s Griffin via St. Martin’s Press without obligation to post a review. The timing of the book’s arrival happily coincided with the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours route for this novel in the book blogosphere, as I originally had wanted to participate in one of the two blog tours I knew about for this particular release, however, from my understanding only ebooks were available for review. Therefore, upon receipt of the book itself from the publisher, I contacted HFVBTs and requested to be placed on the last stop for the blog tour itself: Friday, the 17th of April. 

Unfortunately, the timing ended up being a difficult one for me, as I was blogging about the stress and illness I was under last week on my reviews (both for ‘Inspector of the Dead‘ and ‘The Masque of a Murderer‘; the latter of which ended up posting on Friday in lieu of this one as I fell behind). I technically only had the novel a few short days ahead of Friday, but at that time I felt I could make the quick deadline. Instead, my reflections are posting the Monday after the tour ended.  I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts herein.

Intrigued to Read:

Much to my chagrin, the reason I am curiously receptive to historical novels surrounding parfum is due to my encounter with the writings of M.J. Rose; specifically the book showcases I wrote on behalf of The Collector of Dying Breaths and The Witch of Painted SorrowsI fully immersed myself into the Reincarnationist series prior to settling inside Dying Breaths, as I wanted to understand the world and the back-story of the lead protagonist. Following through to Painted Sorrows, I found myself with a beautiful arc of continuity where fragrance played an under-note of connection to this new release on behalf of Rose. Shortly thereafter, I had the pleasure of reading a Historical Biographical Fiction novel on behalf of Coco Chanel by Gortner; of whom I had the pleasure of reading previously through The Tudor Vendetta. It was during my ruminations on behalf of Coco Chanel I revealed my connection to The Shell Seekers which had given me my first connection to parfum and the intoxicating connections of scent in fiction.

Throughout my readings, one singular thread of context remains and that is the allure of scent and fragrance has sensory triggers that alight through the heart first and the mind second. It is through our memories and the ‘scents therein’ we attach to memory in it’s rawest of forms that allows us to transcend through time and go backwards to a singular moment which stands out to us. It is this pursuit of reading how writers can inflict and inflect resonance with their audience with a particular scent or the allure of a passionate attachment to a particular smell that draws me into their story-lines.

The fact Moran used the basis of her novel on memories of her mother added to my curiosity to pick up her novel, inasmuch as having read her author newsletters for a good portion of the past year. She happily keeps her readers informed of her stories whilst revealing just enough to whet a thirst of interest if you haven’t yet read a novel she’s published. For me, the short notes and the synopsis of Scent of Triumph implored me forward to finding a way into her re-released debut novel. As this was originally published by Crescent House Publishing | Briarcliffe Press in 2012. Read a bit about her Indie Press to Major Trade journey on her blog.

Coincidently, to my own recollection Ms Moran is one of the ‘writers who found me’ via Twitter, thus I started to follow in-kind and signed up for her author’s newsletter. This is one reason I curate a list on Twitter for writers who find me as I keep a list of the authors and stories which alight quite serendipitously across my ‘twitterverse journey’ for the day in which I can properly become introduced to their stories. This is another example of how finding each other on Twitter can be a wicked sweet discovery for both writers and readers alike and I encourage you, if your following me on Twitter, tweet me and/or convo me on my blog — you never know when I might be inspired to read your novel!

As an aside, as I have the hours to do this, I am uploading a list of books to a special list on Riffle solely dictated by the writers who found me and the stories they’ve written which ignite a reason of interest for me to read them. I am not sure why some writers find me and then disappear or if I add them to my Twitter list why they stop following me, but once an interest is sparked, trust me, I stay curious. I presume it’s because I do not ‘auto-follow’ back as I like to get to know the writer (or book blogger, reader, etc) following me before I follow them myself. I like to understand their writing style and the stories they publish, as much as I read their feeds to ascertain a bit about them as a person. Word to wise: if you find a book blogger, tweet them a ‘hallo’ and start a random convo interdependent from your novel. Conversations are golden!

After all, if Ms Moran hadn’t found me, how would I have known about Scent of Triumph?

Yes, I would have found it via Shelf Awareness, but would I already be committed to reading it?

More incredible is I truly believe I was meant to read all of these novels in succession of each other: The Shell Seekers, A Fall of Marigolds, the Reincarnationist series, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, and Coco Chanel in order to fully appreciate what I would find inside Scent of Triumph. There is something to be said for reading intuitively and reading the stories we recognise are meant to enter our lives at the time in which they are meant to come alive in our imaginations.

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Blog Book Tour | “Scent of Triumph” by Jan Moran A Historical Biographical Fiction novel rooted in fashion, parfum, France, and a legacy through time through the threads of love and passion!Scent of Triumph
by Jan Moran
Source: Direct from Publisher via Shelf Awareness for Readers

Book Synopsis of Scent of Triumph:

When French perfumer Danielle Bretancourt steps aboard a luxury ocean liner, leaving her son behind in Poland with his grandmother, she has no idea that her life is about to change forever. The year is 1939, and the declaration of war on the European continent soon threatens her beloved family, scattered across many countries. Traveling through London and Paris into occupied Poland, Danielle searches desperately for her the remains of her family, relying on the strength and support of Jonathan Newell-Grey, a young captain. Finally, she is forced to gather the fragments of her impoverished family and flee to America. There she vows to begin life anew, in 1940s Los Angeles.

Through determination and talent, she rises high from meager jobs in her quest for success as a perfumer and fashion designer to Hollywood elite. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, Scent of Triumph is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Historical Fiction


Published by St. Martin's Griffin

on 31st March, 2015

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 384

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Wednesday, 22 April, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, Author Found me On Twitter, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Trailer, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Fashion Fiction, Fashion Industry, French Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Perspectives, Historical Romance, History, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Parfum Industry, Passionate Researcher, Romance Fiction, Shelf Awareness, The World Wars, War-time Romance, Writing Style & Voice

+Blog Book Tour+ A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable : A #histfic narrative wrapped up in the mystery of art & antiques

Posted Sunday, 5 October, 2014 by jorielov , , , 6 Comments

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A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book)
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Official Author Websites:  Site @MGableWriter | Facebook

Available Formats: Hardback, Ebook

Converse via: #AParisApartment & #FranceBT

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “A Paris Apartment” virtual book tour through France Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

Somewhere in my wanderings on Twitter recently in the bookish realms I frequent, this particular novel came up in a conversation! Then, if I am remembering correctly it was broached in the book blogosphere (of which I am also a participant), so you could say, my interest has become piqued!

I believe I also came across this book not just in Shelf Awareness but on another bookish site recently, as I remember my musings when I first read the premise! To take a real-life mystery and purport it into a fiction telling of ‘what could have been’ I think was a smashing idea on your behalf! I love when writers dig into the realm between fact & fiction, as much as a mystery which involves around art and antiques. Within the silence and the hours in-between what is known and what needs to be found is good folly for a story to inhabit as it allows your lead character to grow and seek what they are intuitively striving to locate as well.

As you can gather from my initial reactions on behalf of A Paris Apartment, I was quite excited about the prospect of not only reading the story but in the realisation of what the story involves! I had contacted the author directly in April of 2014 as there was a bookaway through Shelf Awareness inasmuch as she was visiting #LitChat for a bookish topical discussion that I was quite keen on attending. This was one of those rare moments where everything felt as thought it were set to rights and serendipitously aligning to work out quite well. I have appreciated each and every writer I have become introduced too through #LitChat, as much as I appreciate the ability to write personal notes to the authors who host bookaways through Shelf Awareness, as I love making personal connections to the writers I am finding myself encouraged to read. It brings the book industry closer to home and it allows the writers to get to know their readers a bit as far as who is keen to see their books in print and who is itching to read them once they are released. I find it to be quite the lovely circle of positivity and creative acceptance of the living arts.

What struck me the most about this particular novel is how remarkable the backstory set within its perimeters truly sounded as you delve into the make-up of the circumstances of the ‘apartment’ in question. Or rather, I ought to be saying ‘the flat’ in question!

My singular regret is that I had to postpone my tour stop until I recovered from a horrid stomach flu and by having the hours dissolved off the clock, I had to forfeit my opportunity to interview the author. I was so chuffed it had worked out I could interview her and then, as the fates so happened to align I missed the chance afterall.

+Blog Book Tour+ A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable : A #histfic narrative wrapped up in the mystery of art & antiquesA Paris Apartment
by Michelle Gable
Source: Author via France Book Tours

THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER!

Bienvenue à Paris!

When April Vogt’s boss tells her about an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been discovered after being shuttered for the past seventy years, the Sotheby’s continental furniture specialist does not hear the words “dust” or “rats” or “decrepit.” She hears Paris. She hears escape.

Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder’s repository. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there’s a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April’s quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It’s about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.

It’s about discovering two women, actually.

With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan’s private diaries, April tries to uncover the many secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into Marthe’s life, April can’t help but take a deeper look into her own. Having left behind in the States a cheating husband, a family crisis about to erupt, and a career she’s been using as the crutch to simply get by, she feels compelled to sort out her own life too. When the things she left bubbling back home begin to boil over, and Parisian delicacies beyond flaky pâtisseries tempt her better judgment, April knows that both she and Marthe deserve happy finales.

Whether accompanied by croissants or champagne, this delectable debut novel depicts the Paris of the Belle Epoque and the present day with vibrant and stunning allure. Based on historical events, Michelle Gable’s A Paris Apartment will entertain and inspire, as readers embrace the struggles and successes of two very unforgettable women.

Read about Marthe de Florian

Places to find the book:

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

on 22nd April, 2014

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 384

Author Biography:

Michelle Gable

Michelle Gable is a writer and also a mom, wife, financial executive, sports-obsessed maniac (Go Chargers! Go Aztecs!), Southern California native, barre class fiend, tennis player, and card-carrying member of the Chickasaw Nation.

She grew up in sunny San Diego and attended The College of William & Mary, where she majored in accounting as most aspiring writers do. Throughout a career that started in public accounting and then moved to private equity, then investment banking, and ultimately to the head of FP&A for a publicly-traded software company, Michelle continued to write. And write and write. Her first novel {A Paris Apartment}was released on April 22, 2014, her second scheduled for Spring 2016.

Michelle currently resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.

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A catacomb cache of antiquity and art:

As we first cross the threshold of a locked away apartment in a section of Paris which begets instant recognition, we step properly inside April’s shoes — seeing everything her eyes drink in and with a deep appreciation for finding items of art once thought to either be lost or nonexistent altogether. As I lamented on my ruminations on behalf of Lost in Thought, I have always been a bit piqued in apt fascination for the history of antiques and the items from estates cast back into the world via emporiums and boutiques where everyone can find something they fancy to collect or gather for their own homes. There is a particular keen attraction to having a sense of a living legacy of a singular life attached to the item, as a vehicle of immortality in the sense that someone’s essence was entwined with the piece. Touch is a sense most convicting for our sensory perceptions – it allows us a tangible connection to what cannot be seen but rather felt and thereby internalised on a deeper level of awareness. There was a true catacomb cache of antiquity and art held within the walls of the apartment time and history were kept unawares in knowing about; and within that cache held a curiosity of a person not easily understood nor quenched once her life was brought out into the open.

My Review of A Paris Apartment:

As soon as April mentioned being in need of ‘catching a redeye’ my mind flickered backwards into my own past whereupon I stranded myself in the Pacific Northwest simply due to a mild curiosity over controlled rock climbing walls & a certain outdoors expedition store called REI. I daresay I was always an adventurous lass, but to forfeit my return flight and had to opt instead for the redeye — wells, there are times where I question my own sanity! My reverie continued whilst observing her ‘techniques’ to pinch out every spare inch of her suitcase for ‘necessities’ she’d need on her holiday; the memories of my own ingenuity of achieving the same impossible task left me inside of a smirk!

April’s fragmented life is in a reckless disarray filt with disillusion and an honest sense of being caught in flux; betwixt the present and the future whilst unresolved about the past. Her life is a fitting juxtaposition to the apartment by which she is hired to sort and recover what has been left behind to be found. Her emotional health is a frayed rope of nerves, and whilst she finds herself drawn into the legacy of Boldini and of Madame Florian, it nearly felt as though she were searching for a resounding clarity that would give credence and enlightenment to her own life.

The time shift sequences giving us a jolt of Madame de Florian’s life as she transcribed it down into her diaries was a rare and exquisite treat. Yet one of the surprising twists of everyday life for me in the modern area of the story, is when it was disclosed that dog walkers do not pick up after their animals have taken care of business. It is a well-known fact that no one can walk their dogs (or in some rare cases their cats) without the courtesy of removing what is left behind for someone not to unexpectedly walk through it. I had no idea that Paris has a problem similar to Venice as far as a stench of foulness emitting out of a situation that is containable. It gives a new dimension of awareness I had not yet stumbled across and had me left wondering how you can truly appreciate walking the streets if there are more little ‘surprises’ to be found along the sidewalks? I agree with April on this note on how indifferent it would be to have the joy of being in the city replaced by a bit of furrowed discontempt of such an everyday difference of living.

I felt the energy of the first half of the novel started to muddle towards the middle bits, as April’s suspicious nature towards her husband’s past infidelity was starting to grow a bit old as the old ‘dialogue’ continued to play out. I think it would have been best if she had been more honest with herself that she had already taken an exit out of her marriage. Although, truth to life, perhaps she was not yet aware of what she wanted and thereby had this disconnection growing larger between her and her husband simply due to distance and lack of direction to take next. Even Madame de Florian took a bit of a backseat, and the joy of the art discovered in the apartment ended up being bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape. The further I read into the story, the more crude the humour ended up becoming or rather the more crude the direct references were to the story’s internal threads. I was a bit aghast to find this happening, as foresaid the beginning had such a sprite of energy and sophistication, and watching everything start to derail before my eyes was not something I enjoyed. If I were to be honest, it felt as though there were two halves of a whole and they were not equally connected.

The cheeky humour and the intricacies of Michelle Gable’s writing style:

Gable has an intrinsic method of revealing the well-established stigmas attached to Americans whilst on holiday in France as much as she has a clairvoyant way of using cheeky humour to establish the short tolerance Americans feel in return. The French have always had a certain level of discontempt for Americans, as even I have found this to be threaded through conversations during intermittent connections I’ve had with them, yet what always struck me the most off-character about the whole absurdity of this tension between the countries is how genuine Americans love France and everything most decidedly French! And, for those of us who are of French descent directly, it is a curious stone to overturn. I honestly believe this is due to a disconnection between us: a break down in communication or at the very least an understanding of our different personalities and perceptions of how we live our lives.

Gable allows her American and French characters to respond and react within the perimeters of this well-established awareness between the two cultural divides, yet she always attempts to step out of the stigma and re-align a sense of forward progression.

Fly in the Ointment:

I am not sure why I felt I was awaiting the shoe to drop but call it reader intuition as I had a stirring sense of knowledge the strongest of words would start to trickle out into the enriched descriptive narrative like water snaking out of a busted drain. And, rather unsatisfying to me, of course by page 45 we had to see reveal the one word I despise amongst all others flaunted on display. I truly have yet to find a reason for such inclusions, but on this particular novel’s behalf what felt even more flat is the layers of depth Gable gave to her descriptions.

She breathes words which are not regularly found in Contemporary nor Historical Contemporary Fiction, and somehow the additions of vulgarity felt as though she were depreciating the level of sophistication she started the novel off with at the beginning. In the same sense where April felt vexed when a causal touch or disrespect for the pieces in the apartment were being unceremoniously contaminated by carelessness.

These strong words can be blinked out of today’s fiction for my own sake of sanity, as when I find wicked quality on behalf of the story-teller I am walking a line betwixt wanting to recommend the work for the level of literary quality vs shirking away from realising the recommendation is on a work that is inclusive of language I cannot fathom needing being included. I am as indecisive of knowing how best to augment my final thoughts as I had been after concluding “I Shall Be Near to You”.

I wish I could say the saving grace within this particular tome of narrative voice is that the vulgarity was as intermittent as a wayward fly at a baseball game, however, they were bent on making such striking appearances as to remind me why I do not appreciate the surge in love bugs during Autumn! The annoyance level is always on extreme high as try as you might you cannot outwit a love bug deluge.

On a separate note, I felt the French words writ straight into the dialogue sequences would have felt more second nature to the reader if there were (translated English words) running counterpoint to the French. I positively love when language is used as a vocal representation of setting and of a time of era, yet when all I have is a language opposite of the one I natively speak, all I can do at best is give a smile of a nod to the words themselves without a proper sense of what is actually being said. As a for instance, if one wanted to say “Autumn is such a proper renewal of spirited joy after a languishing of Summer.” Why not write it like this: (or a variant therein)

"L'automne est un tel renouvellement correct de joie vive après une langueur de l'été."  (Autumn is such a proper renewal of spirited joy after a languishing of Summer.)  she expressed in full measure of unexpected happiness.

I used an online French / English Translation app and thereby am not responsible if the French to English has acceptable loss of error. I simply wanted to convey how frustrated I felt whilst caught up in the French expressions without an English translation in-text. This is not a quote from the novel either – I crafted the entire exchange on the fly so to speak.

I also noted that whenever we were re-visiting Madame de Florian’s life through her diary of letters, the language of English she used was American rather than British, and that was a unique observation for me. I realise most works of American novels in historical fiction do not encompass British English in preference of historical accuracy but I am always struck at a loss to understand why they do not? She wouldn’t be using the spelling of ‘endeavor’ for instance as she would have writ it as ‘endeavour’. It is almost as though the historical points of view are translated yet the language bits are not; a bit of a wench in the wheel to me.

I would have given a celebratory nod of realism had the modern bits [focused on April] had solidified her speaking vernacular of American English with French in-text translations of English; fused counter-current with Madame de Florian’s diaries writ in British English with overlays of French (with in-text translations as well).

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 Read an Excerpt of the Novel:

{Provided by Issuu.com}

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Virtual Road Map for “A Paris Apartment” Blog Tour:

A Paris Apartment Blog Tour via France Book Tours

A special notation at the end of my post is dedicated to the writers like Ms. Gable & Ms. Alexander (of Dare to Kiss who supports a PTSD charity), who give proceeds of their novels to charity, in this particular instance Ms. Gable has a rotation of charitable organisations she is contributing towards each month there are net proceeds from A Paris Apartment. I found the list on her website and have linked the charities for easy reference to click-through & discover more about each of them.

MAY: The Chloe Nichols Foundation
JUNE: Wounded Warrior Project
JULY: Monarch School (San Diego)
AUGUST: Help4HD International
SEPTEMBER: Safe Horizon

I have been supporting the Wounded Warrior Project in small ways and one day hope to strengthen my support to make a larger impact, as I find it a difficult pill to swallow that we are not taking care of our returning servicemen & women. The crisis of our Veterans is knitted close to my heart and it is an on-going mission of mine to help find ways to improve their lives; not only through this charity but the outreach Hire Heroes USA as well. I have been supporting the troops through Soldiers’ Angels since 2011.

I was hoping to find an organisation and/or charity that would help the homeless stand stronger and put their lives together through positive hope and obtainable goals; seeking a footprint towards a stronger future. I am blessed to have found the Monarch School on this list as I think this is a concept that needs to be taken nationwide.

Likewise, through the 8 years I devouted to watching Law & Order in my twenties, I became especially keen on the charity of Mariska Hargitay : The Joyful Heart Foundation. As much as watching the mission behind No More flourish and take root. Women have always been rock solid innovators, and every step of the way the more we all choose to reach out to those in need of assistance, empathy, hope, and a bit of joy — we endeavour our own spirits to be lifted up in universal love.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBe sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

France Book Tours

 on my Bookish Events page!

Please take note of the Related Articles as they were hand selected due to being of cross-reference importance in relation to this book review. This applies to each post on my blog where you see Related Articles underneath the post. Be sure to take a moment to acknowledge the further readings which are offered.

I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, kindly know that I appreciate each thought you want to share with me and all the posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary! Short or long, I appreciate the time you spent to leave behind a note of your visit! Return again soon! 

{SOURCES: Cover art of “A Paris Apartment”, book synopsis, author photograph of Michelle Gable, author biography, and the tour host badge were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. The Excerpt of “A Paris Apartment’ on Issuu had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. France Book Tours badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

The Complete Works of Giovanni Boldini – (giovanniboldini.org)

Madame de Florian’s Abandoned Apartment – (anothermag.com)

House Tour the Secret Paris Apartment of Madame De Florian – (blog.decoratorsnotebook.co.uk)

Suspended in Time – (blogofthecourtier.com)

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “A Paris Apartment”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

Comments on Twitter:

The best blessing for me tonight as I read A Paris Apartment is the beautiful happenstance conversation I had with a British Historical fiction author, Ms. McGrath who is a close personal friend to two lovely story-tellers I have not only featured on Jorie Loves A Story but cannot stop talking about their stories to anyone who fancies the same types of narratives as I do! I am referring to Ms. Liz Harris (A Bargain Struck & The Road Back) and Ms. Jenny Barden (The Lost Duchess). Our conversation is inside my feeds on Twitter as I stopped copying them over as they became our own convo independent of Ms. Gable’s novel. I was wicked happy in another regard – now that I have my landing page set up, I can start commenting once more on the English Historical Fiction Author’s Blog as oft as I can the Heroes, Heroines, & History Blog! Champion! All is never quite as lost as we first fear!

I truly believe in what I tweeted just shy of 2am:

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Posted Sunday, 5 October, 2014 by jorielov in 21st Century, Adulterous Affair, Antiques, Art History, Artwork Provenance, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Clever Turns of Phrase, Courtesan & Cocottes, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Disillusionment in Marriage, Fly in the Ointment, France, France Book Tours, French Literature, Geographically Specific, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Madame de Florian, Passionate Researcher, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Shelf Awareness, Spontaneous Convos Inspired by Book, Time Shift, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

*Blog Book Tour*: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Posted Monday, 13 January, 2014 by jorielov , , 6 Comments

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The Gods of Heavenly Punishment Tour via HFVBT

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Author Connections: Facebook | Site | Blog

Converse on Twitter: #GodsOfHeavenlyPunishment | #GodsOfHeavenlyPunishmentTour
OR Tweet @JennCodyEpstein

Published by:
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
, 11 March 2013 [hardback] | Page Count: 384
13th January 2014 [paperback]
| Page Count: 400

Available Format: Hardback | Paperback | E-book 


Acquired Book By:

I participated in the blog book tour for the hardback edition of “The Gods of Heavenly Punishment” by visiting the various stops on the original HFVBT route! Whilst making my rounds, I entered to win a copy of the novel! Whereupon I received such wonderfully brilliant news that I had indeed won a copy via Unabridged Chick’s blog in October of 2013! I received the book direct from the publisher without obligation to post a review.

Afterwards, whilst seeing there was a new tour for the paperback release of the same title, I requested to be placed on the tour! I decided that it was one book I hadn’t wanted to wait to read and being on a tour would be quite lovely! I was selected to be a stop on “The Gods of Heavenly Punishment” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by HFVBT, in which I am reading the hardback edition rather than the paperback. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I originally came to know of this novel through reading one of my bi-weekly newsletters of “Shelf-Awareness for Readers”, whereupon I had entered to win a copy of this book in March of 2013 sending my entry directly to the author Ms. Epstein as requested. I did not receive a reply as the contest win went to someone else. However, I shared my thoughts, observations, and feelings about Japan inside my entry which went to the heart of why I was inspired to read the story contained within. These were those thoughts:

I have known about the effects of the World War on Hiroshima and Okinawa, exclusively through girls that I befriended who lived there, even if over the years, our friendships have all but faded. The girl in Hiroshima grew into a woman who had to marry, and I noticed that in marriage she wasn’t able to write as much, so we lost contact. I will never forget her kindness and her acceptance of what had happened, as she didn’t have conflict but rather a lot of peace! She was the one who originally told me about the Peace Crane project and of the statue. Through my friend in Okinawa I saw a different side of the war, one where the Japanese were welcoming to our soldiers and men, and how thankful they were for their presence.

I realise not everything that happened has a happy ending, as my friends are the same age as me, thus, we’re a few generations removed from the original events, and perhaps, as time is a healer of hearts and minds,… maybe its due to time that their memories are different than those who lived through everything first hand. I was reading my Friday edition of Shelf Awareness, and once more I felt a stirring inside me to know this particular story,… Japan has been on my mind + heart for years,… even in childhood as my grandparents loved Japanese art and culture, as much as I was drawn to everything else that encompasses the country. I have always found the Japanese to be hearty, fiercely strong, and devoted to faith, family, and survival. They have a genuine happy spirit about themselves, and they appreciate all of life, but most especially the joys and the unexpected bliss that unravel as we live.

Having said that, I never heard of the plight of Tokyo, in the war! I only know of what Tokyo is facing today, and how much it grieved me {and the rest of the world} that this nuclear meltdown was causing such added strife and sorrow…. I even feared for my friends’ I have long since lost, as I knew they were in and around the general prefects of Tokyo.

I would be honoured to read this story and open my eyes to more of the real picture of what residents of Tokyo and the rest of Japan have not only lived through but have had to overcome. There are always two sides to every story, and as time folds back on itself and shifts forward, I do find that not every element of historical truth is known until a writer has the courage to pen the story that needs to be heard. Thank you for being one of the brave ones and thank you for giving us a story to change our perspective and deepen our empathy.

{note} The contest ran in a Tuesday edition, but I waited until Friday’s edition to respond.

Whilst I was entering to win the book on Unabridged Chick’s blog I had this to say after having read Audra’s review:

I murmur your thoughts on this section of literature,… I am drawn into war stories myself, especially those stories that etch into the heart of the two couples struggling to keep their connection & make sense of everything that is happening around them. I don’t believe everyone who reads this part of literature is necessarily advocating for war, rather instead, they are appreciative of the stories that speak to the human heart and the bond that threads through us all!

I liked how you expressed the book unique style of settling the story into your mind and leaving it there a bit wantonly afterwards! You gave me the impression that the characters I’d find inside will stir my heart and leave me museful after I encounter them! Always an inclination I am in search of!


Synopsis of the Story:

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody EpsteinOne 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.

Author’s Biography:

Jennifer EpsteinJennifer 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.

For more information, please visit Jennifer Cody Epstein’s website and blog.  You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


A measure of innocence, ahead of stark cold reality:

Epstein opens her novel through the lens of projecting the innocence of youth, as evidenced by the opening sequences of introducing the reader to Cam and Lacy. Two university co-eds enjoying a date at a carnival in 1935, far ahead of the pending World War, of which I had suspected had a precursory quality about its delivery. To give a measure of innocence ahead of the stark cold reality which would settle in once the events of the attack on Tokyo were fully realised and turnt inward in the story. She juxtapositions straight into Japan, where we meet Billy the budding photographer whose confidence could use a nudging. Yoshi is the tender-hearted six-year-old whose Mum Hana is at a cross-roads of examining her life’s choices and the wayward path her life has taken her. Reflections on choices she erred in believing were true only to be turnt to falsehood by the man she laid her mistrust. Yoshi is a precocious child whose mastery of three languages rises her above her young years with a maturity she has not yet discovered inside her.

Hana is married to Kenji, a man she hadn’t quite chosen to wed and one who wasn’t quite her equal match. She questions the merit of their marriage as much as the depth of his understanding of her. She was carted off to different countries so frequently in her growing years, she is a woman of the world rather than the traditional Japanese wife he was expecting her to become. She held herself with a different countenance than others in her generation, and strove to keep her individual identity intact. Her state of premonitions in regards to overwhelming grief and tragedy keep an edge inside her which hasn’t a release of calm to give.

My Review of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment:

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment begins slowly as though your about to enter a dance where the music is set low in order to intone and inflect the seriousness of the movements thus forthcoming. Epstein has mastered the gift of easing her audience into the heart of her tale by misleading their confidence in seeing how each of the lives in the story are surrounded in their own waves of normalcy ahead of the terror. You gently enter their lives as though you were the unspoken observer, cleverly intuitive and receptive to their most intimate of affairs. You glide alongside their shadows, taking in the truths they would rather etch away and instill in your own mind what their realities are preparing for them to yield. She is presenting a study of soliloquy of cultural traditions against the backdrop of sociological warfare.

By 1942, Cam is fully grown and awaiting orders for a mission he would take whilst hinted at those years ago at the carnival whilst his eyes were skyward watching the planes in the sky. His letter to Lacy diverge the ominous events still yet to come. The mingling joy of their days prior to his dispatchment were long since dissolved, whilst his fear of the unknown worked to overtake his last nerve. Epstein doesn’t shy or yield away from what Cam would be hearing and seeing as he was starting to live through the horror of what was on the edges of his sight. A fighter pilot would always be pitted against the odds which would extinguish a life without a passing thought as dogfights rendered logic elsewhere.

I am not sure how I came to feel the story inside would be a far different one than the one I encountered, but suffice it to say, my forethought of reason to read the novel was intermixed with the pages giving my eyes and mind far more to ponder than I could have felt possible. The raw realities of this slice of the World War was a bit more than I was willing or able to handle, which is why I had to force myself to read ahead. This is one instance where I honestly couldn’t carry forward with the story, as it was wrenching me on the insides to the brink that I was not able to feel anything but discomfort and misery. I always approach each novel I open with an open-mind and heart, but this one touched on more than I could overcome.  I honestly could not finish this one nor can I give it a full review of what the author intended to leave behind for readers to experience.

Fly in the Ointment:

Switching point of views was a bit awkward, as your feeling as though your re-reading the same passage without the foreshadow of why it would be repeated at all. The limited windows of revelation of how the other characters were taking in the scene on the porch when Yoshi came running the hill were off-set against the inability to sort through why full dialogue and action were truth and bone intact. The initial start of the novel gave the impression of the novel heading in one particular direction with a tone altogether different than the one that veers off around page 45. I had a strugglement in following the author’s guiding hand as pieces of the narrative felt a bit choppy to me rather than maintaining their flucidity.


Virtual Road Map for
“The Gods of Heavenly Punishment” Blog Tour:

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment Tour via HFVBT

Be sure to scope out my
Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva
to mark your calendars!!
As well as to see which events I will be hosting with:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT{SOURCES: Author photograph, Book Synopsis, Author Biography, Book Cover “The Gods of Heavenly Punishment”,  tour badge & HFVBT badge were provided by HFVBT and were used by permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Absorbing and Thoughtful Interview with Author Jennifer Cody Epstein: Asian Culture, Women’s Rights, and Sea Urchin – (hookofabook.wordpress.com)

Interview with Jennifer Cody Epstein – (unabridged-expression.blogspot.com)

Celebrating the Paperback Release of Jennifer Cody Epstein’s The Gods of Heavenly Punishment – (womensfictionwriters.wordpress.com)

Jennifer Cody Epstein Shows Literary Excellence in Historical Fiction Novel Centered in WWII called The Gods of Heavenly Punishment – (hookofabook.wordpress.com)

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie
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Posted Monday, 13 January, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Aftermath of World War II, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cultural Heritage, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Japan, Japanese History, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Shelf Awareness, the Forties, The World Wars