A critically acclaimed, multi-layered romance set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II, where gods hold the fates–and the hearts–of four mortals in their hands.
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.
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Lovely War absolutely blew me away. It was the first book I picked up in 2021 and I went in with only a basic grasp of what this book was about but…wow. Just wow.
You would be right to wonder how a World War One setting could possibly gel with the ancient mythology of Greek gods but in this book Julie Berry manages to achieve something really quite special. We have interludes with the gods in their ‘present day’ but the stories of our characters are also told by different gods, and we get a unique tone with each one. The chapters narrated by Hades gave me literal chills and, at one point, had me in tears. To me that is the mark of a good writer.
At its heart this is a historical fiction romance story, with our four main characters meeting and falling in love before being separated by the outbreak of the war. It is a story full of heartache and love, of hope, despair and resilience. The story is charming and moving, dealing with some heavy topics in a sensitive way. Critically, it would have been nice to get as much of Colette and Aubrey’s story as we did of Hazel and James but on the whole this was an incredibly unique, clever and moving story and I was 100% here for it.
I have to say that I also really enjoyed and appreciated the friendship which emerges between Hazel and Colette and brought an added dimension to the story. In Lovely War, Berry weaves a beautiful story together putting a fresh spin on a well trodden path in terms of world war fiction.
Berry’s writing is wonderful and descriptive, the plot moves along at a nice pace and the characters were well rounded, likeable but flawed. Our Greek gods added depth with a little bit of humour to the story and honestly, if I could put a copy of this book into the hands of every single reader who enjoys historical fiction and/or romance, I absolutely would.
‘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.’
If you want to see me chatting through all the books I read in the month of January then you can find my full reading wrap up here and for more cosy book inspiration, check out my 5 recommendations for books to read this winter.
Have you read Lovely War? If you have, I’d love to know what you thought about it.