Book Review, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Lovely War by Julie Berry

lovely war

Lovely War is a tale of human love told by the Greek Goddess of Love Aphrodite. In this story, she endeavors to answer the question of why Love and War are so inextricably linked.

Hazel and James meet in London right before James is sent to the trenches in France. He is captivated by Hazel’s musical talent as he watches her play the piano at a church dance. Their love is as deep as it is instantaneous.

Aubrey and Colette, a jazz musician assigned to an African-American regiment and a Belgian singer, meet at a YMCA camp. Their connection is less straightforward, threatened by prejudice as much as it is by the Germans advancing through France, but powerful nonetheless.

As Aphrodite weaves together the lives and stories of these four young lovers, other Gods constantly interrupt and intervene in the fate of the mortals in ways she cannot control. Ares, Apollo, and Hades – War, Poetry, and Death – each contribute to Love in ways unknown to mortals and difficult to comprehend.

But without them, Love has nothing over which to triumph.

I picked Lovely War up at a bookstore on a whim. I had never heard of it before, but the cover captured me. And I was rewarded handsomely for this impulsive decision.

The tradition of Gods telling stories of the mortals whose fates they control is as old as Greek civilization itself. But Julie Berry does it in a way to make you think this style originated with her.

Lovely War is easily my favorite book of the year so far. Julie Berry’s writing is masterful and beautiful. Though the story weaves two different love stories with the saga of the Greek Gods, you never lose your place or confuse the details.   

While reading, I cried tears of every kind – joy, laughter, and despair. No words are sufficient to explain my love for this book. I envy all of you getting the chance to read this for the first time.

Lovely War is marketed as a Young Adult novel, but I don’t think that should cause anyone to dismiss it. I didn’t even realize that until after the fact. Truly I cannot recommend a book more highly.

5 x infinity stars.

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