Lovely War – Julie Berry

Lovely WarFrom the publisher, “It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep–and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.” 

Employing Aphrodite as the story narrator, telling the story of four people swept into WWI is brilliant. The author touches on the horror of the trench wars, the bigotry faced by the African American soldiers, the brutalization of Belgium, women’s roles during the war, problems faced by returning soldiers, and so much more.  The book is not so much a love story (G-rated) but more about war and how it drastically impacts the lives of innocents.  It can also serve as an introduction to WWI. I finished this book the same day that I watched Peter Jackson’s documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old”.    Julie Berry is a master storyteller, deftly weaving the characters and plot.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                                   Publication date 3.5.19

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