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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Heat of the Sun by David Rain

Product Details

 When recently orpahned Woodley Sharpless encounters Ben Pinkerton - known to all as 'Trouble' - for the first time at the exclusive Blaze Academy, he is instantly enraptured. They are polar opposites: Ben is exotic and daring; Woodley is bookish and frail, yet their lives quickly become inextricable linked. First at school, then in the staccato days of twenties New York, Woodley sees flashes of another person in his friend and slowly discovers a side of Ben's nature that reveals his dark and hidden history.

But as the curtain falls on the frivolity of the twenties and rises to reveal the cruelty of a new decade, Woodley and Ben's friendship begins to fragment. Over the coming years the two men meet intermittently: in Japan before the outbreak of the Second World War and then again amidst the furore of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. Change in both their lives, their relationship and their suffering, stand for a generation marked by depression and upheaval, brutality and confusion. The Heat of the Sun is an ambitious and assured novel that captures perfectly two friends, two loves: two lives

To start, in compliance with FTC guidelines, I must disclose that I received the an advance reader's copy of the book for free through Goodreads First Reads. 

When I first opened the book and saw that it was set out like an opera rather than having "proper" chapters, I thought it would be rather pretentious.  I am not always a fan of authors using these ideas to present their story.  In this book, however, it worked perfectly.  The story flowed exactly through the sections as an opera would and it reached the perfect crescendo just before the curtain came down on the story at the interval.  I was quite drawn into the concept of the opera before I was even half way through the book.

I really liked the authors writing style as well.  He had the perfect balance between setting the scene and describing it enough so you can picture it in your mind without being over wordy and going on and on at length just for the sake of it.   His writing structure was very easy to read while still being intelligent enough to not make you feel like he was talking down to you.

The story itself was very different to what I had expected when I started reading.  I expected more of a tragic love story based around Trouble's father and his Japanese "wife".  We still get the love story but just with different people involved, which really kept me reading to see where it was going.

We all know the saying that "truth is stranger than fiction" (one of my favourite sayings) and it applies to this story.  Central to the story was the dropping of the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a plot which you could not make up as no-one would think it believable.  The fact that it is true is astounding.  I knew so little about this period of American (and Japanese) history and was glad to be educated by this book.  Imagine being at the testing of these bombs and then knowing what they were going to be used for and having no way to stop it, or even worse, being able to stop it and not doing anything about it!  I am finding it difficult to express myself here without inserting a spoiler so lets just leave it for now and you will just have to read the book yourself to see what I am trying to say.

I dropped one star from my rating as I felt that the section "Le Vol's Story" was not necessary to the book and just added some confusion in my mind as to where the ending was going.  There was also a lot left to the imagination with words unsaid and I must admit to being slightly confused as to what the author was trying to get across at times.  It kind of became clear in the end but I still have a niggle in my brain that I either misinterpreted or missed something completely through the omissions.

In summary, a unique and enjoyable book that I would be happy to recommend to a friend.

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