The Lovely War, by Julie Berry, is a historical-fiction novel that follows the stories of four characters in WWI. The book interlaces thrilling romance with Greek gods and goddesses as it is narrated by Aphrodite, Ares, Hades, and Apollo.
In the beginning I was drawn in to the immediate romance between the first couple along with the tension that immediately played out. Then as I became more acquainted with the book the friendships between the character caught my interest and I was hooked. I can safely say that this was my favorite book of the year, and I will be rereading it. I enjoy a book that jumps into the plot immediately without trailing on about unrelated parts of the story. This is a book that does just that. When I first read the book I was recommending it to practically anyone I spoke to, and it is still one of the first books I mention when people ask for book recommendations.
The characters felt real, as if they had jumped off of the page, and when I was finished with it, it felt like I had truly lost good friends.
For those who haven’t read the book, the first characters that readers are introduced to are the gods: Aphrodite, Hephaestus, and Ares. Ares and Aphrodite are caught in an affair by Aphrodite’s husband Hephaestus. They then enter into a trial. Hephaestus has intentions of bringing each of them onto Mount Olympus, however, Aphrodite and Ares persuade him to have the trial in the hotel room where they’re caught having the affair. Aphrodite proceeds to call two other Greek gods to the stand, including Hades and Apollo to help tell the story of two couples in World War I, attempting to prove to him that love is not worthless. The first couple includes Hazel and James. Hazel is a piano player and James is a soldier. They meet with the help of Aphrodite, and enter a love story that moves quickly, but contains tension that will give readers a page-turning experience. The second couple readers are introduced to is Collete and Aubrey. Collete is a white singer, and Aubrey being a black piano player the couple faces obstacles that are relevant even in today’s day and age. Collete and Aubrey’s story is one to leave readers empathizing with the struggles they greet.
This book, in a word, is enchanting. Not only is the romance between the two couples of this story beautiful and moving, but the friendships that are formed allow readers to get lost in the stories of the characters. Collete and Hazel, the two main female characters, challenge authority, and aid the soldiers of WWI. They support one another in their endeavors, and their friendship is one of the most compelling parts of this book. It is heartwarming and touching. In a world where female friendship is lacking in books, The Lovely War features two characters who defy that trend.
The most engaging part of this book are the characters. They were well thought out and dimensional, with wants and dreams that readers could understand. Readers will feel as if they’re right alongside the characters as they’re struggling through the barriers they face. Furthermore, the development of the characters was well thought out and by the end of the story, even though they were the same characters, they had changed in many ways. This is a story readers can grow with; a story that causes readers to change alongside the characters.
Julie Berry, the author of the story, made an appearance at Santa Barbara High in September, and read a part of her book, showcased some of the music surrounding the time period of the book, and spoke about the history surrounding WWI. Berry proceeded to sign copies of the books that were for sale after the talk was over.
In short, The Lovely War is great for fans of historical fiction and romance. It is considered a young adult novel and contains tame themes throughout, while keeping the readers on their toes with the relationships between the characters, and the action threaded throughout.
Overall, this book is a beautiful blend of romance, friendship, and myth-I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick page turner that draws readers in from the first page, and keeps them hooked until the very end. It can be found in the SBHS library as well as any bookstore.