4 stars

“If music stops, and art ceases, and beauty fades, what have we then?”

-Julie Berry, Lovely War

The year is 1917, and World War I is at its peak. Hazel, a talented pianist, and James, a British soldier set to be deployed in a week, catch site of each other at a party. By some cruel fate, the two fall in love, but James still has to go and fight, leaving behind Hazel as he heads for the loveless trenches.
Meanwhile, Aubrey is an American apart of the first African American infantry being sent to Europe to fight in The Great War. Also a successful musician, he is awestruck the moment he first hears Colette sing. Colette is Belgian and has been threw unspeakable tragedies. How will she be able to let Aubrey into her broken heart?
Told by the Greek Gods, this story takes a new twist on historical fiction as Berry writes a love story that will shows its readers the power of music and love.

Let’s get right into this, shall we?

First off, let me gush about how amazing this book was! This story is told by the Greek gods, which was such an incredible spin on historical fiction! It definitely reminded me a bit of the Book Thief, narrated by Death. This definitely made this novel stand out from other historical fiction I have read. And of course, who better to tell a love story than Aphrodite and a war story than Ares? I adored this aspect of the story. Not only that, but the Greek gods were funny! I really enjoyed their sense of humor and it made the heart-breaking book a little more light-hearted when needed; almost like a comic relief.

Second, I loved the insight to the African American regiment in this novel. I had no idea that POC went through horrors just at their training! Aubrey’s story broke my heart, which made his love story with Colette so much better. Both of the characters had people they love stripped away from them at war, which I think made their relationship even deeper. It was very interesting to read about what they faced as a mixed-race couple, and how it was so much different in Europe vs. America.

And of course, I loved the part that music played in thus novel. 3 of the main characters were all musicians, and I think that it really emphasized how important music really is! James fell in love with Hazel because of her music, and Aubrey fell in love with Colette because of hers. Not only that, but Hazel and Colette befriended Aubrey because they were awestruck by his talent! Music brings people together in ways that words can’t, and I think this novel really embodies that. I put my favorite quote from this novel up above, but it is so true I think it deserves to be said twice:

“If music stops, and art ceases, and beauty fades, what have we then?”

-Julie Berry, Lovely War

I wish I could end this review with all positives, but unfortunately I have to say that James and Hazel’s relationship was too insta-lovey for me. I understand that we are supposed to believe that Aphrodite is the reason they “fell in love at first site,” but I had a really hard time believing it. It wasn’t until the second half of the book I started to even care about their relationship because that’s when I started to find the chemistry more believable. By the end I was rooting for them, but it definitely took me some time.

So, to sum up, read this book! There is not a lot of WWI historical fiction out there so this is definitely an interesting read. I can’t wait to see what Julie Berry publishes in the future!

TW: grief, sexual assault, loss of a loved one

Cover photo by Penguin Teen

8 thoughts on “Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry

  1. I just recently read this and wrote a review. I love this book so much, it was indeed undeniably funny. So happy I found a lot of common books with you hehe just dropping some love here! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this!! Sums it up really well and got me wanting to read it again AHHHHH

    I agree that the romance btw hazel and james was a bit cliche but my heart went pitter-patter still :)))


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