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Lovely War
Cover of Lovely War
Lovely War
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Read the novel New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network Kate Quinn called "easily one of the best novels I have read all year!" A critically acclaimed, multi-layered romance set in the...
Read the novel New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network Kate Quinn called "easily one of the best novels I have read all year!" A critically acclaimed, multi-layered romance set in the...
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  • Read the novel New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network Kate Quinn called "easily one of the best novels I have read all year!" A critically acclaimed, multi-layered romance set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II, where gods hold the fates—and the hearts—of four mortals in their hands.
    They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. 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 judgment 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.
    Hailed by critics, Lovely War has received seven starred reviews and is an indie bestseller. Author Julie Berry has been called "a modern master of historical fiction" by Bookpage and "a celestially inspired storyteller" by the New York Times, and Lovely War is truly her masterwork.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book December 1942
    The Judgment of Manhattan

    Hephaestus lowers the net back to the couch and lets it expand so his prisoners can at least sit comfortably. They can stand up, but they can't go far.
    "Goddess," he says, "in the matter of Hephaestus v. Aphrodite, you are charged with being an unfaithful wife. How do you plead?"
    Aphrodite considers. "Amused."
    Ares snorts.
    "You're in contempt of court," Hephaestus says. "How do you plead?"
    "On which charge?" asks the goddess. "Infidelity, or contempt?"
    Hephaestus's nostrils flare. This is already off to a terrible start. "Both."
    "Ah," she says. "Guilty on both counts. But I don't mean to be contemptible."
    Hephaestus pauses. "You plead guilty?"
    She nods. "Um-hm."
    "Oh." He hadn't expected this. The clever lines he'd prepared, the scalding words, they desert him like traitors.
    "I've disappointed you." Aphrodite's voice oozes with sympathy anyone would swear is sincere. "Would it make you feel better to present your evidence anyway?"
    Who's manipulating whom here?
    She's not afraid. No amount of evidence will matter.
    But Hephaestus spent months gathering it, so he submits it for the court.
    The lights dim. A succession of images appears in the air before them like a Technicolor film in their own hotel room. The goddess of love and the god of war, kissing under a shady bower. On the snowcapped rim of Mount Popocatépetl at sunset. Cuddling on the shoulder of an Easter Island statue. On the white sand beaches beneath the sheer cliffs of Smugglers' Cove, on Greece's own Zakynthos Island.
    "Hermes," mutters Aphrodite darkly. "Zeus never should've given him a camera."
    If Hephaestus had expected his wife to writhe in embarrassment at this damning proof, he has only disappointment for his efforts. She's shameless. His brother is shameless. He was a fool to think he could shame either of them.
    The images fade. Silence falls.
    Aphrodite watches her husband.
    Hephaestus's thoughts swirl. What had he expected? A tearful apology? A pledge to be true? He should've known this would never work.
    But he'd been desperate. Even Olympians, when desperate, can't think straight. Of all the beings in the cosmos, Hephaestus is the only one who can't pray to the goddess of love for help with his marriage troubles. The poor sap hasn't a clue.
    "Hephaestus," Aphrodite says gently, "this trial was never to get me to admit something you know I don't mind admitting, was it?"
    "You should mind."
    "Your real question," she says, "if I'm not mistaken, is why don't I love you?"
    "It's simple," Ares says. "She loves me."
    Something is apparently hilarious to Aphrodite. Ares's huge arms fold across his chest.
    She wipes her eyes and speaks. "I don't love either of you."
    Ares sits up tall and thrusts out his lower lip.
    "Hephaestus," Aphrodite continues. He feels like he's now in the witness stand. "Do you love me?"
    He's not sure what to say. What's she doing? He wishes his dumb brother weren't here.
    "I'll answer for you," she tells him. "Of course you don't."
    "I . . . That is . . ." Hephaestus stammers. "I'm here because I want—"
    "No one can love me," she says. "No one."
    "What do you mean?"
    "That is the price," she tells him, "of being the goddess of love."
    Ares's deep voice breaks the silence. "Don't be ridiculous," he says. "The only reason Father Zeus made you marry him was because all the other gods were fighting tooth and nail for your hand. He stuck you with him to avert a civil war. We all wanted you."
    She shrugs. "I know you all wanted me."
    Modesty was never...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from January 1, 2019
    Love's enduring power faces off against the horrors of war in this sumptuous Greek mythology-inspired romantic page-turner.In a Manhattan hotel on the eve of World War II, Hephaestus catches his wife, Aphrodite, in a compromising position with his brother Ares. To exonerate herself of the crime of adultery, she weaves an intricate tale of mortal love during wartime that demonstrates the endurance of the human spirit. Vacillating between the present and the past, the goddess's narrative centers on Aubrey, an African-American musician; Colette, a Belgian singer; Hazel, a wide-eyed British pianist; and her paramour, James, an aspiring architect (the latter three are white), who are all brought together by happenstance during the First World War. The resulting interweaving story is an epic of Shakespearean emotional depth and arresting visual imagery that nonetheless demonstrates the racism and sexism of the period. Scheherazade has nothing on Berry (The Emperor's Ostrich, 2017, etc.), whose acute eye for detail renders the glittering lights of Paris as dreamlike in their beauty as the soul-sucking trenches on the French front are nightmarishly real. The mortal characters are all vibrant, original, and authentic, but none is more captivating than the goddess of love herself, who teaches her husband that love is an art form worthy of respect and admiration.An unforgettable romance so Olympian in scope, human at its core, and lyrical in its prose that it must be divinely inspired. (Fiction. 13-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2019

    Gr 7 Up-The Greek gods relate the tale of how four young people's fates collide in a love story for the ages. Caught by Hephaestus in an compromising position with Ares, the god of War, Aphrodite is put on trial by her husband in a Manhattan hotel. World War II is waging, but the goddess of Love hearkens back to the first World War to present the romantic epic tale of Brits Hazel (a shy pianist) and James (a reluctant soldier). Hazel follows James to the Western Front, where she meets Colette (a grieving Belgian) and Aubrey (an African American musician from Harlem). Readers will be swept away by Berry's lyrical prose, evenly paced alternating chapters, and unforgettable characters who will jump off the page and resonate with teens. Her acute attention to historical detail is supported by thorough back matter touching upon the racism and sexism of American armed forces at the time. While the conceit of meddling Greek gods sometimes borders on contrivance, the format is ultimately successful. This rumination on the costs of war, the healing power of love and music, and the inevitability of death will stay with readers and tug at their hearts. VERDICT A must where historical fiction and Berry's previous titles are popular.-Shelley M. Diaz, BookOps: The New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from March 1, 2019
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* Love and war. They've been inextricably intertwined in literature since Helen of Troy's face launched a thousand ships. And just as the Greek goddess Aphrodite had a hand in that mash-up of desire and havoc, so is she also on the front lines in Julie Berry's sweeping historical novel, which begins in 1942. A stylish couple can barely keep their hands off each other as they take an elevator up to their hotel room?where the woman's husband awaits. But this is no ordinary trio. They are revealed to be Aphrodite, Ares, and Aphrodite's long-suffering (very long-suffering) husband, Hephaestus, god of forges and fire, who entraps the adulterers in a gold mesh net. Aphrodite tells Hephaestus he knows nothing of love, but she can show him what it looks like. Taking a page from yet another literary figure, Scheherazade, Aphrodite takes the whole night to spin a story that wraps her relationship with Ares, the god of war, around the story of four lovers who meet during WWI: James Alderidge, on his way to the front; Hazel Windicott, a pianist, who has a few days to fall in love with him; Colette Fournier, a young Belgian woman whose family has all been killed by the Germans; and Aubrey Edwards, a Black soldier, in France to both play jazz with an infantry band and fight for America. In hands less skilled than Berry's, this multifaceted novel might easily have spun out of control. Mixing Greek gods (Hades and Apollo also join their fellow Olympians as the story unspools), the brutally described horrors of war, the tenderness of love, and the evils of racism, in both its blatant and insidious forms, seems more than one book can handle. Yet Berry is her own Scheherazade, mesmerizing us with intertwined tales that describe the depths of suffering and the sweetness of love with remarkable intensity and naturalness. This is one of those books in which readers will feel that they are in it together with all the story's characters. In fact, it is one of Berry's real triumphs that she manages to give nearly equal weight to a large cast of very different characters. James' evolution from a lighthearted young man to a cruelly hardened soldier would seem to have much more depth to it than the story of Hazel, a shy musician. Similarly, Aubrey, spared death when white soldiers mistake his friend for being the Black soldier stepping out with Colette, and who endures both the hell of war and the injustice of having his accomplishments denigrated, is the kind of character who could easily dominate. And, yet, Berry's portrait of the friendship forged between Hazel and Colette, as they spend the war in France as volunteers, waiting to learn the fates of their loves, though a quieter part of the tale, emerges every bit as forcefully and meaningfully as the more dramatic stories.This is not particularly a young adult book. Every emotion, description, and literary sleight-of-hand could just as easily be in an adult novel. And that is one of Berry's greatest strengths. She just writes. All of her young adult novels have been different from one another, from fantasy to religious drama. This one is heavily researched, as Berry explains in her author's notes, which detail how much of the framework is based on facts, whether it be the stories of Black servicemen in WWI or the particulars of the weapons used in the war or the roles of women on the home front. But all that detail folds effortlessly into the story, so uncommon in frame but heartbreakingly familiar in emotion. Lovely War proves again that Berry is one of our most ambitious writers. Happily for us, that ambition so often results in great success.(Reprinted with permission of...

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