My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
Author: Julie Berry
Format: eBook (borrowed)
Categories: War, Gods, Romance, World War I
They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.
The Lovely War, is amazingly written and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when Aphrodite starts narrating this love story. I was afraid the narration would take me out of the story and maybe sometime near the ending, it did just a smidge – because it was wrapping up the story lines and felt a little rushed. But other than that, this book is really fantastic.
“Let them start their dreadful wars, let destruction rain down, and let plague sweep through, but I will still be here, doing my work, holding humankind together with love like this.” – AphroditeThe Lovely War by. Julie Berry
The story is a combination of mythology, history, music history and romance. Romance is what drives the story but it also explored prejudice and racial divides of the American troops especially when the black regiment is sent to fight in World War I. I will admit this, I know so much more about World War II because there are many movies, tv series and books about it that World War I is sort of lost on me. I know it happened, I learned about it in history class twenty plus years ago, but no one continues to talk about it as much as WWII. So this book was engaging and I kept highlighting passages in the book to make sure I do some research on it later. But the author goes into more depth with historical notes after the story ends and also added a selected bibliography list. Thank you to the author, Julie Berry, for that!
Aphrodite’s purpose for telling this particular story is due to the fact she is being put on “trial” by her husband Hephaestus for infidelity. The story of Hazel and James, and Colette and Aubrey is her evidence of some of her greatest work as the goddess of love. Their beginning is sweet and appropriate as it was in that era but I was afraid of a sad ending for all them. I love Colette, she is so strong. I adore how she and Aubrey come together through their trials in life and love of music.
Aubrey’s story portrayed the prejudices he and his regiment experiences being an American soldier, well not quite soldier, he’s a musician. Aubrey, being from progressive New York City has much more opportunities there but as he points out, it was still segregated. Racism was everywhere in America and it shows us how far we’ve come and how much more we have to go. Another interesting aspect of his story is the introduction of rag-time and jazz music in Europe! I learned so many things in this book.
When James goes to war, I know it’s inevitable but it still broke my heart. I thought the war scenes were intense but it really moved the story along. And it gave me a sad feeling in his happily ever after with Hazel, just knowing their children will come to experience WWII. We also get a glimpse of James suffering from PTSD and how he deals with it. And I learned a lot about the roles of women back in WWI, since they weren’t allowed to fight. Hazel and Colette worked with the YMCA and the Red Cross. Because I was raised on stories of WWII, the iconic image of women helping in the war was Rosie the Riveter. So shining a light on the women of WWI was a nice change.
Now the gods were great characters in the story as well, Hades being my favorite. We see death as something depressing and scary, but Hades’ narration was a lovely way of showing how even though our loved ones are gone, they are watching us from beyond.
“I am so often moved by souls whose first concern is not for their own lost years, but for the grief their passing will cause to those they love.” -HadesThe Lovely War by. Julie Berry
With all the love stories being told, you’d think I would have been attached to the main characters. And the gods have their own love story too. But the story that finally got me was the moment James talks to Frank Mason’s wife. That’s the moment this book almost brought me to tears. 😢 The Masons scenes were brief but so impactful. I think all the sorrow, stress, fears and anxiety culminated it in that point for James and the whole story. That moment was a big exhale, a very pivotal moment for the characters to choose to go on living.
After everything these characters go through with this war and how it brings them together, tears them apart and for some together again, there is still love. There is hope and forgiveness also. This story moved me in so many ways. It is an emotional and beautiful homage to part of our history and the people that lived through it. It also reminds us that love is always worth fighting for.
Get it here: Amazon
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