Lovely War Book Review
Julie Berry pieces together a masterpiece of historical fiction, mythology, and romance in Lovely War. Four individual and unique perspectives play out during World War I with themes of inequality, strength, individuality, and devotion.
The author uses Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, to narrate the story with brief appearances from Ares, Hades, Apollo, and Hephaestus. She tells the story of four young adults and the difficulties they face while in the middle of a world-wide war. Hazel, a bright-eyed young pianist meets James, an army recruit about to be sent off to France, who helps her realize she cannot sit and wait for opportunities to find her. This pushes Hazel to decide to join the war effort as an entertainment secretary. Soon, Hazel meets Collette who has just experienced a heartbreak when a bombing destroys her hometown in France and kills her fiance. Collette decides to become an entertainment secretary and sing for the soldiers. They quickly become friends and meet Aubrey, a black musician traveling to a performance, who takes an immediate liking to Collette.
Although the romance is forbidden, given the prejudices against black people at the time, Aubrey and Collette soon become very close. This goes to show that even the strongest hate and inequalities can be fought with fierce love and compassion.
Throughout the book, the story switches from character to character so we never get an idea of the main character. In the end, each character comes upon a resolution, although none are perfect. Hazel’s appearance is damaged by a bombing, Collette and Aubrey face prejudices against their love, and James loses most of his memories of Hazel from shell shock. They each manage to work through their difficulties and live peaceful lives afterwards. I really enjoyed how the switch in perspectives allowed me to see how each character was feeling during the same scenes. I think the true meaning behind Lovely War is that we love unconditionally, and that through ups and downs, true love remains strong. I think placing love and passion in the middle of a war provides a perfect example of that.
This article was written for Mrs. Wahrenberger’s Journalism class for a summer reading assignment.