Review: Lovely War (Julie Berry) | A Soulful, Sweeping and Swoon-worthy War Novel narrated by Greek gods

This one was such a heartbreaker. What drew me to this book was Greek Gods narrating the story during WW1 but when I went in… woahh, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding (just like how our YA characters do this all the time in every single book) Lol. But seriously though Lovely War grabbed my emotions and threw and flung them around like rag dolls. This is a beautiful WW1 book and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

LOVELY WAR by Julie Berry

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Romance | Age: Young Adult
Series: No

Published: 5 March 2019 | Read: 6 August 2020
No. of Pages: 480

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.

A sweeping, multi-layered romance with a divine twist, by the Printz Honor-winning author of The Passion of Dolssa, set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II.

Goodreads | Amazon

The most ordinary mortal bodies are housed by spectacular souls.

I realised my earlier review wasn’t doing this book justice so here we go again. (tip: count the number of times the phrase ‘I loved’ comes out)


It would be an understatement to say that I loved Lovely War because I loved it so desperately, with every inch of my little bookish heart and my soul that has been repeatedly shattered. Lovely War packed in a whole load of things and I adored every single second of it.

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

Lovely War follows the lives of four young people during World War 1, a soldier, a piano girl, a jazz pianist and a singer with a tragic past, linked by love, music and war.

The writing is as beautiful as the cover and as beautiful as the story of hope and love in a time of devastation is. And it’s told by Greek Gods, Greek Gods ya hear me?? I loved their point of view so much, being both authentic and hilarious. I loved seeing how the Gods had interfered in that story of these 4 young people, each representing the different aspects of love, war, music and death, showing how much they intertwine. The tone of voice of each of the Gods felt so resonant.

Lovely War is a story of hope. Of love. Of how humans, broken as they are, can care for another. And it was insanely sweet how that was demonstrated. I know some people complain about the instalove but IT WAS NOT (or rather not really in my delirium of loving the story) – it was more of an attraction and a slowly developing relationship between two endearing young people which was so so so dear to me. The amount of understanding and support in the relationships despite how much it fluctuated… *screams in hysteria*

Let them start their dreadful wars, let destruction rain down, and let plague sweep through, but I will still be here, doing my work, holding humankind together with love like this.

But Lovely War is not all fluff okay. It deals with SO many serious issues like race. I was so heartened at how it highlighted the contribution of the African Americans during the Great War. Kudos to Julie Berry! Furthermore, it deals so painfully and realistically with the topic of loss, grief and guilt. Those three besties in war. It broke me so so much to see how each character was plagued by one or all of the three and how they bravely had to overcome it. And it was not cliche at all how it was executed… it was the rawest and realest (is this a word?) thing I loved and cried bittersweet tears for.

Lovely War is a stunningly beautiful book that will slip in and wreck you. So PLEASE do yourself a favour and go read it. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

rating // ★★★★★

Have you read Lovely War? What other war novels have you loved?


9 thoughts on “Review: Lovely War (Julie Berry) | A Soulful, Sweeping and Swoon-worthy War Novel narrated by Greek gods

  1. I really need to get around to this book! I just skimmed through your full review, but it sounds so incredible and I don’t even know why I haven’t picked this up yet 😩😂 I’m so glad you enjoyed, Cherelle, and thank you for the review 💖


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