The Heat of the Sun

Written by David Rain
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

David Rain has imagined a sequel to the story in Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. In the opera, Butterfly has a child, a boy, by Lieutenant Pinkerton, a U.S. naval officer, and at the end of the opera, the child is taken back to the USA by Pinkerton and his American wife. So what happened to him?

According to Rain, in his early life at public school he meets Woodley Sharpless. The lives of these two boys become inextricably linked and are carried through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression and the Japanese involvement in WWII, climaxing back in America in 1945.

I found this a fascinating book and very plausible. The characters were well drawn and could well have lived the lives mapped out for them. I found myself sympathising with Woodley and irritated by Ben Pinkerton, or ‘Trouble’ as he was known. The background of events is accurate enough historically, and I was totally caught up with them as they unfolded through the decades until Ben Pinkerton’s ‘dark secret’ is revealed.