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Lovely War by Julie Berry

The Story

LOVELY WAR synopsis from the publisher:

LOVELY WAR by Julie Berry

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.


Tell me your favorite romance novel or one of your top favorites that had romance in it?  Was it everything you wanted and a little bit more?  I hope it was and there are plenty of books to name.   I’m sure you can tick the names off your fingers (and not have enough fingers to count them all), but what if I made the suggestion of a new narrator for those top three favorites?  And what if that new narrator happened to be the goddess of Love herself telling the story from her perspective and watch as the tale unfolds with the help and guidance of Aphrodite.

Lovely War is a novel unlike anything I’ve read in a long time.  Utterly captivating, witty and cleverly penned.  With mythical gods as narrators, Berry blends together myth and historical fiction so artfully that without both ingredients, the confection that is Lovely War wouldn’t be as fulfilling. 

More Thoughts

The tale begins in a posh Manhattan hotel, dripping with wealth and prestige, but with the backdrop of WWII looming like a dark foreboding shroud, there is a raw urgency to take advantage of every moment.  The first characters to enter the scene are two guests checking into the hotel: Aphrodite and Ares, the goddess of Love, and the god of War.  

Caught in their tryst, literally in a golden net, by Hephaestus, the god of forging and Aphrodite’s husband, Aphrodite must make her case before her spouse or be judged by the pantheon of gods on mount Olympus. Which apparently is far worse and far more humiliating.

A Few More Thoughts

Aphrodite begins her case with a story, a story of romance that is by her standards, her best work.  Enter our two couples whose lives will be forever changed 25 years ago, during the first World War: darling Hazel, a pianist from London, who takes a chance that no one would ever expect and James, a young man who dreams of one day becoming an architect, but must first face the brutalities of war as a British solider.  Aubrey, born in Harlem, whose musical genius gets him dubbed as the “King of American Ragtime” tackles the dangers and prejudices of being a black soldier and the lovely Colette from Belgium whose voice can be said was gifted by the Muses, but has a past that will leave you in tears. 

One More Thought

All of these characters are intricately connected in the fabric of this story and Berry weaves a tale fusing together threads of every color to provide depth into each of the characters’ feelings and their surroundings: from the bright hues of discovering love, something fragile and new, to the colorless depths of war and destruction, where surviving is imperative. 

Lovely War is a must read.  I devoured every page of this breathtaking tale of love, passion, beauty, death and war.  

Happy Reading ~ Cece

RATING: ink blotink blotink blotink blot – Exceptionally Inked

Lovely War Photo Collage

Publication Details

Pub DateISBNPage CountPublisherAge GroupSource & FormatJacket
Review Posted Online
5-Mar-19978-0451469939480Viking Children’s BooksYoung AdultHardcopySamira IravaniMay 13, 2019

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Welcome Reader!

I’m Cecelia and I’m so glad you’re here! You’ll find honest reviews, book recommendations, along with other bookish essentials. So happy you stopped by!

– C

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