Joy TITLE: Lovely War
by: Julie Berry
I couldn't recommend this book to anyone more, especially if you like historical fiction! It is definitely the best book I've read to date! I think I will be reading more of her works if they're all this good. It's hard to read about war times, but she did a masterful job; it wasn't too gruesome, yet it still painted a very realistic picture. One character (Collette) has her entire family ripped away from her by the Germans. (By the way, this takes place during World War I, & I haven't read much WWI literature.)
The love stories of 4 mortals (Hazel & her beau, a soldier named James) & a black soldier named Aubrey who is also a very talented pianist falls in love with Collette is told by the gods; the god of war (Ares), God of death (Hades--who has a different sort of presence in this book), goddess of love (Aphrodite), god of music (Apollo), & the god of blacksmith/forgery (Hesphaetus, Aphrodite's husband who calls together the court to try his wife, who he catches being intimate with Ares.)
A beautiful & heartwrenching story is told of darling Hazel as she goes off to volunteer in the YMCA to provide music (on the piano) which is how she meets Collette (also a volunteer.) James is a sweet gentleman, who like many in the war, is greatly impacted by it. He becomes a sharpshooter & suffers a lot of mental anguish from all the terrors of war he experiences in the trenches.
The value placed on physical appearance & scarring becomes an important theme in this book as Hazel later tries to convince James that she's unlovable & ugly after a shell hits their train. James reminds her of how he was when he was sent to a hospital to recover after seeing his good friend get slaughtered in war; he had even pushed her away when she tried to come visit him & continued to distance himself. Their love story was very raw & perfected over time; it made me cry. SO good! I would definitely befriend a woman like Hazel; she's an amazing, resilient & loving individual. And in the end of the book, the goddess of love herself unfolds more of her personal story & background than the reader could have possibly understood in the confusing beginning of the story.
"The first casualty of war is the truth."
(After Collette glimpses Aubrey in her home, after believing him to be dead)- "Joy can do that. It can hurt as much as pain."
"I am so often moved by souls whose first concern is not for their own lost years, but for the grief their passing will cause to those they love. It's more common than you might think. The most ordinary mortal bodies are housed by spectacular souls." (Hades)
MY RATING: 5 STARS!!!