Book Club, Fiction, Historical, Romance, Young Adult

Lovely War by Julie Berry

On the store blog today my coworker Anna and I featured our favorite new romances, all contemporary save one, as we thought it time we feature the books that bring us joy in the world right now. Lovely War I read because I’m going to be joining Anna’s YA for All Book Club that she runs with another coworker, and this is a romance for the ages. I read it nearly in one sitting, something I haven’t done in AGES, let alone during the reading slump I finally broke out of on Friday.

Synopsis

From the Back Cover:
In the perilous days of World Wars I and II, the gods held the fates – and the hearts – of four mortals in their hands.

Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette.

A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect turned soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the US Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past.

Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgement on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though war is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of love.

Review

Of course the day after my boss says we can start getting the store back together and ready for an eventual reopening, that’s the day I decide I can bring myself to read again… Why couldn’t I have felt like reading again at the beginning of self-isolation? But anyway, I’ve been on a World War I kick since re-watching Wonder Woman, which led to watching The Red Baron, which lead to countless wartime aviation documentaries, which led to finally wanting to finish The Enigma Game (now out in November), and finally that brought me to Lovely War, coincidentally the June YA for All book club pick for the store!

I had always intended to read it, and to join in the book club, but given my reading habits for the last two months I didn’t think I’d actually be able to. However, I was immediately sucked in – the story starts with Hephaestus catching his wife, Aphrodite, cheating on him with Ares, the god of war (and Wonder Woman connection so we’ve come full circle) and I honestly hadn’t even remembered what the synopsis, so long ago did I bring the book home and actually read the back.

Never before have a read a love story so immersive, so immediate, so completely overwhelming. I kept thinking how I couldn’t really believe it was a young adult book – I kept envisioning it sitting on a display on par with The Nightingale. I thought I knew a great deal about both World Wars as I’ve been fascinated by them for most of my life, but not only did I enjoy the plot, I learned a great deal about the front in France and how all the different groups of people who came there for many reasons from all over the world interacted with each other.

Julie Berry includes an in depth historical note at the end of the book and goes into great detail about her own learning experience while writing and as a nonfiction lover, I was so excited to be given a reading list of her sources. I have a feeling I’ve found my first true self-isolation staff pick, after making up titles for the past eight weeks for the store! And stay tuned for this week’s Diary of a Bookseller on Thursday where I’ll go into detail about what it’s like to go back to work!

Rating: 10 out of 10

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent bookstore, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.

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