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The Heat of the Sun: A Novel Hardcover – November 13, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805096701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805096705
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,164,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

What happened to the characters in Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly after Cio-Cio-San’s suicide? Australian author Rain imagines some answers in his first novel. For starters, Pinkerton is now a powerful U.S. senator. His wife, Kate, is an éminence grise, and his illegitimate son, Trouble, is now a student at a private school. There he is befriended by the novel’s narrator, a boy named Woodley Sharpless, whose late father had been the U.S. consul in Nagasaki when Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San were an item. Other characters from the opera make at least cameo appearances as well. There are two main themes to the ensuing story: one is the story of the lifelong, and occasionally troubled, friendship of Woodley and Trouble; the second is Japan during the 1930s and early ’40s as seen through the eyes of the two friends. Though occasionally frustrating in the opaqueness of the many characters’ relationships and of unresolved plot points, Rain’s novel is dramatic, even operatic, and an engaging read, especially for opera buffs. --Michael Cart

Review

"This book is a thing of beauty: Rain constructs the story like an opera libretto, with an overture, four acts and an intermission. Swinging through the decades, intermingling cultural and political developments, Rain is subtle and assured, a writer of unquestionable talent. Do yourself a favour and read this wonderful book now." -- The Irish Times

"A wildly audacious and compellingly written book… Reading The Heat of the Sun is like watching an author keep daring himself to take higher and higher hurdles and clearing them every time; he creates dizzying effects, both in his web of plot twists and in the prism of twentieth-century history through which he tells his story." –Opera News Magazine

"An explosive story of friendship . . . a sensitive, intelligent snapshot of a watershed moment in our country’s history. . . Rain’s worthy novel is a touching, often searing tale of friendship, betrayal and love. His flawed characters are staggering beneath the weight of the past, which they carry like burdens even beyond the book’s chilling, operatic conclusion." -- BookPage

"There are passages in the novel that have a heartbreaking beauty worthy of Puccini’s music." –The Washington Post

"What happened to the characters in Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly after Cio-Cio-San’s suicide? Australian author Rain imagines some answers in . . . [a first novel that is] dramatic, even operatic, and an engaging read." -- Booklist

"Rain, who’s ‘far too young to be writing this exquisitely’ (Bookbag), imagines what happened to the son of Madame Butterfly, Puccini’s eponymous heroine." – Library Journal

"[The] characters and a sense of tragedy evoke American authors Fitzgerald and Styron, yet Rain’s outsider worldview enriches rather than dulls the narrative, particularly in sequences set in Pacific Rim Asia and others involving the Bomb. The author masterfully weaves Madame Butterfly through the 20th century, assuring that the connections never read as coincidences or plot devices." – Publisher’s Weekly

"A remarkable debut that reinvents, elaborates and extends into the late 20th century the story Puccini made famous in Madama Butterfly.

The book might be called postmodern, but it never makes references to create ironic distance—on the contrary, every detail is in the service of the elaborate, operatic melodrama, the story within the story. A version of the ancient story of love and honor, and honor betrayed, it culminates at the Trinity A-bomb test, the characters, each in their own way, devastated.

Rain is master of this inventive, operatic and at moments harrowing debut."

Kirkus Reviews

“This fantastic story swirls around an irresistibly charismatic ‘bad boy’ whose odyssey of self-definition pulls the whole world in its wake.  Like the historical epochs and episodes it weaves into a mesmerizing puzzle, The Heat of the Sun is by turns wildly colorful and strait-laced, witty and rueful, reserved and operatic. David Rain's clever mixture of fact and famous fiction puts a new spin on the ‘butterfly effect.’”
--Andrew Solomon, National Book Award winner and author of New York Times bestseller The Noonday Demon


"The more I read The Heat of the Sun, the more I admired it: for its imaginative reach, its emotional power, and the lit-up beauty and exactitude of its writing. I thought it breathtakingly good."--Sue Gee, author of The Mysteries of Glass
 
"David Rain's striking debut novel manages the audacious feat of burying its soul of romantic tragedy inside a story of great theatrical invention and whimsy.  The result is wholly original, and a lot of fun.  Read it and the 20th Century may never look the same to you again."--John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road and The Commoner
 
“David Rain is far too young to be writing this exquisitely. . . Pinkerton is glamour encapsulated. . . .The scope of the book is vast . . .from the early 1920s, through to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. . . . The whole is a story about the universal search for love and for self, set at a time when there was less freedom to do either of those things. . .There isn’t so much an echo of Scott Fitzgerald in these pages as a gentle background refrain that hauntingly lingers at the edges of every page.”-- The Bookbag, UK

More About the Author

David Rain is an Australian writer who lives in London. He is the author of the novel The Heat of the Sun, about the boy from Madame Butterfly and what happens next. He has also written poetry, articles, and reviews. He has taught literature and writing at Queen's University of Belfast, University of Brighton, and Middlesex University, London.

Read more about David at www.davidrain.net

Customer Reviews

The characters don't mature.
Mr. D. P. Jay
It is David Rain’s debut novel, “The Heat Of The Sun.” This book is excellent and excellence is in short supply today.
David Seaman
Unfortunately, I found his story to be somewhat less impressive.
J. Prather

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It was the germ of a good idea. At the end of Puccini's opera MADAMA BUTTERFLY (or the David Belasco play on which it was based), US Naval Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton returns to Nagasaki with his new wife Kate to reclaim the son he had fathered there some years before in his "marriage" to a geisha known as Butterfly. She kills herself just as the cute blonde kid that his mother had named "Trouble" runs to his father's arms. What happens to the boy after that?

Australian author David Rain has the former lieutenant become a US senator, at one time an apparent shoo-in for President, and a major power behind the throne throughout his career. For Kate Pinkerton is more than the elegant lady who appears beautifully tailored at the end of the opera, but the daughter of significant political family who help her shape her husband's career thereafter. And Trouble? Small of stature but charismatically handsome, he is portrayed as the epitome of his nickname, with an unerring nose for trouble, the boldness to cause it, but also the tragic tendency to become his victim. It is a long time before BF Pinkerton II discovers his true parentage, although his dreams are haunted by distant memories of a devoted Asian face.

There is no need to know the opera to enjoy the book, and very little here that opera-lovers will enjoy that others may miss, other than a few arch references to well-known arias. Rain provides an excellent synopsis of the story halfway through as an entr'acte, before he introduces other characters from the opera into his later episodes. But one borrowing is entirely original.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Neal C. Reynolds VINE VOICE on February 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The idea of extending the storyline of the opera, Madame Butterfly, is indeed interesting. But the story of two friends who are the sons of two of the opera's characters fails to kindle the interest of the tragic love story that inspires the book. The relationship between the two main characters starts out as interesting, but really isn't enough to carry one all the way through to the final curtain. The author does deserve credit for the attempt and he certainly shows promise of better writing to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anyone who has ever marveled at Puccini's Madame Butterfly - I've seen it several times and never without shedding a tear - is left with one question at the end: what happens to the love child of Madame Butterfly and Pinkerton? He exits the stage in the arms of his birth father and stepmother to a new life in America.

David Rain cleverly mines the life of Ben Pinkerton, the young boy who becomes known as Trouble. His father has gone on to become a senator and he arrives at his private school ready to live up to that name.

The scope of the book is ambitious: from the early 1920s through Los Alamos the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, told by his lifelong orphaned and bookish friend, Woodley Sharpless. The structure is equally bold; for example, Act One: A Boy Named Trouble - or what happened at school in the twenties; Act Two: Telmachus, Stay - or days and nights with Aunt Toolie in the Village, and so on. And the prose? Colorful if a bit distancing and operatically melodramatic in places.

One might call it an everyman search for evolving identity as well as an examination of solidly friends who strive but never quite understand the internal anguish inside of each other. In some ways, it calls to mind The Vices by Lawrence Douglas, another book about an intertwining but on some levels unsatisfying friendship.

This is a book I admired more than loved. It does sag at parts -- particularly in the mid-section -- but it does herald the talent of an emerging writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I never knew, until I picked up this book and read the background that Giacomo Puccini based his opera, Madam Butterfly, on a play by David Belasco, in turn based upon a 1898 short story of the same name by John Luther Long. Much less that Puccini wrote five versions of the opera.

In any case, Australian novelist David Rain picks up from the short story, play and opera; U.S. Naval Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton returns to Nagasaki with his new wife Kate to find and repatriate his illegitimate son by his "marriage" to a geisha known as Butterfly.

She commits suicide simultaneous with the apparent complete acceptance by her blonde son, "Trouble," of his father.

The former lieutenant, now a Senator, has exercised great political influence, thanks in no small measure to influence from his wife's family.

The small boy is appropriately named and often falls victim to his own antics. While he dreams of his Asian mother, he has no inking that his "mother" Kate is in fact not his mother.

Woodley Sharpless, an unheeded adviser to Pinkerton in the opera, here becomes a new character, the son of the U.S. Consul at Nagasaki. And it is Sharpless, a journalist and biographer, who in his old age, and largely motivated by guilt, narrates the tale.

The book is set in the early 20th century, the 1920s, the late 1930s and near the end of World War II.

I would leave this book on the shelf if I were you. It is not really meant so much to complete the story of the opera as to chastise the U.S. for its foreign policy. A big, contrived bore.
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