Not as deeply thought provoking as I wanted it to be...but I loved the sweeping romance of this WWI era historical novel, narrated by the Greek Gods.
THIS BOOK. I was so invested by page 10 that I struggled to put it down, and by the end I had stifled sobs in public twice and just had to sit and hug the book for a while.
Lovely War is a sweeping tale of romance, true love, fate, war, death, and humanity, told from the perspective of the gods. Put on trial for cheating by her husband, Hephaestus, Aphrodite claims that she will show him her reasons, if only he will let her tell him a story. That story spans the course of World War I, involves two couples, many countries, and the blooming of love in so many different ways, all set against the backdrop of so much death and destruction. Love is what makes us human, and, as it turns out, it also may be what the gods yearn for just as intensely.
I struggled to come up with a synopsis for this one because to me, it has everything, and it’s so wonderfully complex. It spans a wide time range, includes a broad cast of characters, and it’s told from the perspective of Aphrodite and other gods. Like? How does one summarize such a thing?
But I just keep coming back to how much I loved this. How much emotion is involved in all of these characters, human and god alike, and how genuine everything feels. How my heart fluttered right alongside Hazel and James, Colette and Aubrey, how the narration never made me feel too isolated from them like some other omniscient narration has, how beautifully Julie handles issues like racism and brutality and injustice.
It’s just. So. GOOD. And so well-written. If you like emotional tales full of vibrant characters and you can handle war stories, this is not one to be missed.
A wonderful story of love during WWI. Four protagonists--two couples--their friendships and tumult as great forces out of their control dictate their comings and goings, time together and apart. Two British, one Belgian, and one American; African-American, importantly. Musicians, classical and jazz. Battlefields and trenches. Cafes in Paris. Barracks and tents. Rough treatment at the hands of others. Trauma and loss. The power of love. So many ingredients and so much going on. An intimate epic.
Unfortunately, the framing device of Greek gods narrating their stories didn't work for me. I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I would have preferred the book without that aspect.
First and foremost, Lovely War was an historical romance about two couples whose lives intersected during the Great War. Creatively shared, but not in an overshadowing way, through the testimonies of the Greek gods Ares, Aphrodite, Apollo, and Hades, who all had hands in the circumstances of the couples lives. Predominantly, this was James, Hazel, Aubrey, and Colette's experiences with small moments with the gods between "acts." Those moments gave credence to the circumstances that the characters found themselves in and propelled their stories forward.
Besides the focus on two touching romances, the novel was an intense depiction of some of the invasions, war front battles, as well as racial prejudices brought overseas and into the conflict. The author expertly depicted the British, Belgian, and American importance during WWI. I had felt like James and Hazel’s story was more developed than Aubrey and Colette's, but both were full of meaningful and poignant moments of love, death, grief, and in the end, hope.
Note: This book is classified as YA, but as a reader of both adult and YA, it reads more like adult fiction to me. I think that the mild fantasy element brings a lighter touch to balance the bleak and grittier parts and quite possibly, the reason for the YA classification. Regardless, I highly recommend this story to historical romance readers and those who simply enjoy well-written historical fiction with a light touch of fantasy.
Hephaestus catches his wife, Aphrodite, having an affair with Ares. She is put on trial to defend why love should be with war. She tells a love story that takes place during World War I about a girl named Hazel and a boy named James, and explains that they fell in love because of the war and were driven apart because of the war.
3.5/5: This book was OK. It was a long book, but I enjoyed reading it the whole time. The characters in here are all charming in their own ways. The WWI setting was also very well depicted; I can tell the author had done previous research on many aspects of the war's impact. The romance was really well written in the story, but I didn't cry any tears over it. I like this book though.
Hazel and Jame's relationship was really wholesome. Some may say that it was insta-love, but it's justified because of the war going on; the war shows that time is short, so if you want to love someone why wait? I love how their relationship developed, and I love their commitment towards each other. They both ultimately wanted to look out for each other too, and it was so beautiful seeing how much they cared for each other :) Hazel is strong on her own, and James is a dork in the best way. Colette was so elegant and beautiful. And Aubrey? Aubrey was great, I laughed because of his charisma. As for the war, at first I was turned off by James' POV. However, once things got more interesting, I became immersed in all the war details from his perspective. The weakest part of this novel was the whole Greek mythology theme; it felt unnecessary. However, I really love the idea that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, will never have a love of her own as rich and deep as mortals. It makes sense, which is why I love that idea.
What I Take Away: Romance novels are cute. Love requires devotion to each other; to commit to each other and to work problems out together. Love matures over time. Love is also a choice. Love is also deepened because we are bound to death; we will die one day. That enriches love. Jazz is really cool, and it truly was a marvel when it first came out.
Such a lovely story full of beautiful quotes.
I was moved to tears several times. Great historical fiction with just a touch of fantasy plus characters you'll root for, flaws and all. Loved this!
Ok first off I highly, highly recommend listening to the Audio Book version of this novel. It was so good, there was a whole cast of voice characters and piano music strewn throughout the background. I think the music just amplified my love for this novel! This book is told through the eyes of Aphrodite the love Goddess herself. She weaves an intimate tale of 2 of her most favorite love stories of all time. This novel is set during World War I where two young lovers meet for the first time, but are quickly ripped apart because of the war. The first couple Hazel and James must endure many trails and tribulations because of the War. This book touches upon Mental Health and PTSD caused by war, etc. It also touches upon Race Issues since the second couple Aubrey and Colette are an interracial couple. This at the time was very frowned upon and leads to a lot of hardships throughout their relationship. This book was heartbreaking in many ways and I started to worry that neither one of the couples would ever receive a happy ending, because of this cruel war. Julie Berry did a wonderful job of writing such a nerve wracking novel. I was constantly on edge wondering if James and Aubrey would make it home from the war, etc. This was such a good and bittersweet romance, this novel just had me in tears.
In the past I have enjoyed both books relating to Greek mythology and World War I/II. Never before have a read a book that combines both themes. It is an interesting concept, and I gave the book an extra half star in my rating for originality.
There were parts of the story I really enjoyed, however, there were also parts that I felt fell short of my expectations. This story is meant to be a sweeping romance, intertwining three sets of lovers, but I did not feel swept away by any of the couples. It is a very sweet story, and I greatly enjoyed the historical aspects. The two mortal lovers are struggling through a very dark point in history, World War I. This is a less common setting than the more commonly discussed World War II.
Trench warfare is truly heinous, and I think the author did a good job of depicting how wretched and traumatizing fighting in this war was. I was less of a fan of the insta-love that sprang up between the two mortal couples. I know that war has a tendency to heighten emotion, but the complete and utter devotion that the couples felt towards each other upon meeting was a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around.
I was not at all a fan of how the author incorporated the mythological aspect of the Greek gods into the story. To be honest, it didn’t really seem as well constructed as the rest of the story, and it did not really add much to the plot other than an introduction of the mortal characters. I think the story would have read equally well if this portion of the story had been eliminated entirely.
In the end, I can safely say that I liked the story but did not love it.
This romantic historical novel about 2 couples, narrated by four Greek gods, Aphrodite, Hades, Ares, and Apollo, was a treat to read. The chapters were nicely balanced between the stories of the couples and the storyline of the gods, and every chapter was placed strategically to bring out suspense and excitement. This book was right up my alley, with the mix of Greek mythology and historical events of WWI, and it was an unexpected yet welcomed twist.
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