book · book review

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War
by Julie Berry

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Date: 2019
Pages: 480
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Days to Read: 7
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

A sweeping, multi-layered romance with a divine twist, by the Printz Honor-winning author of The Passion of Dolssa, set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II.

It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep–and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

Julie Berry is an American Author who has written 12 books so far in her career, with The Lovely War being her most recent release.

The Lovely War follows our wondrous Greek Gods, namely Aphrodite, Aries and Hephaestus as Aphrodite defends herself as she and Aries are put on trial for their affair. To defend herself Aphrodite tells two stories of love from the first world war. Throughout which we begin to see the world and the god of Love does.

The way that Julie Berry tells the stories of these for characters doesn’t make it feel like a historical fiction. Most of my previous experience with historical fiction has been dry and difficult for me to feel engaged in. As I saw reading ‘The Lovely War’ I felt transported back to the story of the first world war and the experiences of these characters. I was utterly invested in the outcome of their lives.

Hazel and James’s love story was one that I was wholeheartedly invested in. The Character were well written and had so much dimension and depth. You could really see how their characters change and develop through the war and what that does to a person and their connections within society.

Aphrodite as a narrator was an aspect of the book that I found really interesting. Looking and the relationship between love and war from the perspective of love was something I hadn’t seen before. I really enjoyed that the narrator was a character and seeing the little additions and notes the character makes throughout the story.

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a “dislike” but I felt that I was so invested in the story that when the main four characters we follow were treated badly I was really sad. I really didn’t like the racism that was clear in the times of the first world war, but I feel like that’s more of my own issue.

Overall, ‘The Lovely War’ is a transformative book that sends the reader back in time as they listen to a tale weaved by a god. The experience is one that can make someone appreciate the love that they have in their own lives.

Plot: 8.5/10
Ease of reading: 8/10
Character Development: 8/10
World Building: 8/10
Quality of Writing: 7/10
Overall: 4.5/5

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