I've been sitting on this post for a few days, but I finally get to share with you my stop on the Lovely War Blog Tour, and I am thrilled! Thank you to PenguinTeen for sending me a copy.
Read on for my review and a set of book recommendations for the characters...
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.
I'm going to start with my star rating: 5/5. In case I can't adequately explain my adoration for this novel, let those five stars speak for me. However, I know you're reading this because you want to know the reasoning behind each of the stars, so I will do my level best to explain how each element of this novel captured my heart.
First, the narration. Each chapter is narrated by a god, and the focus of the chapter depends on that god's "specialty," which I thought was insanely clever. In addition to this, their voices are so distinct! Even without chapter titles, I would know who was narrating. Complete "Aha!" moment for me. I didn't know this is what I wanted out of multi-POV narration until I got it. My favorite voice was Aphrodite's, because I'm a sucker for a good love story, but Apollo came close--the descriptions of Aubrey's ragtime music and Hazel's piano were beautiful.
Speaking of characters, I kind of want to wrap these four in a blanket and cuddle them forever. I fell so hard, so fast. None of them had forced mannerisms, rare in a large cast, so I was impressed by that. My favorite characters were James and Hazel, because it's rare for me to find an insta-love couple I actually support. These two knew it by the end of their first dance, and surprisingly, so did I.
I'm saving the best for last: the prose and the research. If I could give you my favorite quotes, I would, but honestly, I'd be quoting half the book. Every sentence felt poetic, but not sappily. The whole book flowed in a way that made 450 pages fly by in a snap. I felt truly immersed in history in a couple of different ways. First, through the experiences of the human characters, second, in the World War II setting of the narration, and third, because the gods were characterized perfectly both in their ancient contexts and new modern roles.
The Author's Note at the end is complete with a bibliography, as well as explanations of the historical events and cultural phenomena mentioned in the book. Berry's research is clearly meticulous, and I feel comfortable knowing I haven't been completely misled about any parts of the history, even if some is dramatized.
I gave my "Overall" at the top, but to reiterate: Lovely War is nothing short of a five-star read, and I will definitely be including it on must-read lists for years to come.
Now, for the fun part!
What would they read?
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.