My father served in the Army during World War II, but beyond his experience and the history I learned in school, I didn’t know much about the conflict. My husband, however, is a history enthusiast, and often will show me something new he’s found on the internet—usually live footage from a famous battle.
We’ve also taken in the more recent movie releases about the war, including Pearl Harbor which not only provides detailed enactment of the horrors of December 7, 1941 but also includes the response of our military by sending men on a secret mission called The Doolittle Raid in April, 1942.
The Plum Blooms in Winter, this week’s book pick, focuses on the aftermath of that raid, following the plight of the men who landed on China’s mainland in Japanese held territory. Author Linda Thompson has researched the material with an eye for detail and has captured the horrors of those men’s lives in her debut novel.
The story is based on revenge killing, something the Japanese have long practiced. A Japanese prostitute who held her little brother in her arms after the Doolittle Raid and watched him die is determined to find those responsible and avenge his death. Here’s the back copy:
A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge–In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.
A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission–Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness.
Miyako learns Delham will visit her city and weaves her deadly plot.
But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends–only to confront a decision that will change everything.
I read this book and shuddered at how complicated the lives of both of these characters became as the war ended and the Japanese people and the American soldiers struggled to go on with their lives. This won’t be an easy story for many, but if you don’t read anything else this fall, read this one.