I don’t know how I missed the release of Lovely War by Julie Berry last spring, but I heard about the book and added it to my TBR because I love intriguing historical fiction. Soon after, I heard that it was a great audiobook and decided to listen to it instead of read it. And it was astounding.
At the height of World War II, Aphrodite and Ares are once again caught in a lover’s tryst and must answer for their actions. So Aphrodite, along with several of the other Greek gods, tells the story of four young people during World War I: James, the British soldier about to enter the trenches; Hazel, the girl he just met and hates to leave behind; Colette, the Belgian girl who has lost everything to the war; and Aubrey, the American soldier fighting racism and the draw of his heart. Through their stories. Aphrodite aims to prove that War is no match for the power of Love.
Lovely War is framed by some of the Greek gods—Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo, and Hades—telling the story of four young lives during World War I. I love the set up of this narration because Julie Berry captures the Greek gods personalities in a new yet familiar way and their voices really lend to telling the story. Apollo narrates when the focus is on music, Hades when there’s death or the pressing weight of death, Ares during war, and Aphrodite during romantic scenes.
The audiobook is full cast, so each of the Greek gods has a different narrator and they were all incredible and fit perfectly with their personalities. It also includes music during some parts, which is such a fun bonus. If this doesn’t get nominated for an Odyssey Award, I will be shocked. It deserves so much recognition.
As for the story, it was heart-wrenching and wonderful. The characters are so lovable and it’s hard at times to read (or listen to) their experiences because of the depressing nature of the war. My heart was heavy for James and Aubrey’s time in the trenches, it sang for James and Hazel’s young love, it grieved for Colette’s past, and it warmed at Aubrey’s upbeat personality and love for music. There were moments I laughed out loud, moments that made me want to sob, and moments that stole my breath away. I never knew what the author was planning for the characters, so I was worried the entire time I listened to the story.
I love that Julie Berry took the time to research the experiences of African-American soldiers and women during World War I. I didn’t know much about how they were treated or what they were allowed and not allowed to do, so not only is this a good story, but it’s eye-opening about lesser known stories.
Lovely War is one of those stories that sticks with you long after you finish it. While it’s under the YA genre, I believe anybody who has interest in historical fiction will appreciate this story.