Lovely War is a beautiful multi-layered book that is written to make you feel all the things. I loved the story, it was gripping and emotional, had a great balance between stuff happening and character growth, and I can’t wait to read it again some time. It mixed Greek mythology with World War One, and though I’m normally one for history it made me really interested.
Star rating: 5 stars
This is a beautifully written story which taught me more about WW1 than I already knew. I enjoyed the structure, with different aspects of the story told be Aphrodite, Ares, Hades and Apollo. I liked how it moved through time, showing the changes in characters.
Hazel is a British girl who plays piano beautifully. One evening, whilst playing piano at a dance, a man called James introduces himself. The two dance with each other, connect, and spend a beautiful few days together before James has to leave for France for war.
Hazel, who doesn’t seem confident of what she wants to do with her life, volunteers for the YMCA, which does not please her parents. She heads to France, hoping to be closer to James. The pair exchange letters. Hazel meets Colette, a girl from Belgium who is the second female lead.
Colette has lost everything, her love and her family, to the Germans who took over her village. She escaped, and now volunteers for the YMCA. She sings beautifully, and she and Hazel strike up a friendship.
Aubrey is a Black American Soldier with a talent for music, piano and composition. He is part of a military band sent to France with the US army. Here he experiences racism from his own countrymen, and is frustrated with having building jobs rather than being allowed to fight for his country.
Aubrey and Hazel bond over piano, and Hazel introduces him to Colette. Aubrey falls for Colette, and he begins to visit her at the YMCA, even though he isn’t allowed to.
This book doesn’t shy away from the racism Aubrey experiences, and the dangers of being a woman in the midst of men. It’s the kind of book that breaks your heart, especially when you see that even though there’s been some progress, the same injustices are still happening. We also see the affects of war on mental health through James, who suffers from PTSD.
Although this is not a light read, the romance between Hazel and James, and Colette and Aubrey, provides both sweet and heartbreaking moments. It’s the kind of book where you begin to love each character, and root for their happiness.
Have you read Lovely War? What are you favourite Historical Fiction novels? Do you like Greek Mythology? Let me know in the comments.