Lovely War
by Julie Berry

Published: 2020-02-04
Paperback : 480 pages
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Read the critical darling that Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network, called "easily one of the best novels I have read all year!" A sweeping, multi-layered romance set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II, where gods hold the fates--and the hearts--of ...
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Read the critical darling that Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network, called "easily one of the best novels I have read all year!" A sweeping, 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 the 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.

Author Julie Berry's critically acclaimed writing has been called "haunting and unforgettable" by New York Times bestselling author of Salt to the Sea Ruta Sepetys and "utterly original and instantly engrossing" by Publishers Weekly.

Editorial Review

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December 1942
I Hear a Rhapsody
It is early evening in the lobby of an elegant Manhattan hotel. Crystal prisms dangling from the chandeliers glow with soft electric light. On velvet couches near the fire, couples sit close, the men in officers’ uniform, the women in evening wear, resting their heads on their gentlemen’s shoulders. Restaurant garçons seat couples at dim tables secluded by faux-Greek marble busts and showy ferns, where urgent kisses may remain unseen. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think Berry intends you to think about when you see the novel’s title? In what ways can we consider war to be lovely? Can love be characterized as some kind of war?

2. How does using an impromptu trial help give meaning to the stories of Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette in 1918? Would anything be lost or gained by removing the mythological narrators?

3. James and Hazel primarily know each other through the exchange of letters. How do you think this affects their relationship as the story progresses?

4. How does the role of music compare in the characterizations of Hazel and Aubrey?

5. As Hades describes the fates of Colette’s family in the razing of Dinant, he notes that “Colette the child died that day.” (page 121). How does the experience shape Colette’s character? How do the horrific deaths of people close to them, and their coping efforts, shape the characters of Colette, Aubrey, and James?

6. Hephaestus is a brilliant creator, bearing what his fellow gods consider to be grotesque physical deformities, who, for good or ill, is eternally wed to the embodiment of beauty. Which of the story’s characters do you think best parallels Hephaestus and why?

7. Aphrodite approaches her story as one of love conquering long odds: war, racism, cultural differences, wounds, and so forth. Do you think the odds stacked against Hazel and James are greater than those against Aubrey and Colette? How about those facing Hephaestus and Aphrodite, or Aphrodite and Ares?

8. Think about Hades’s role in the story: what does his narration do for the story? How does he function as an actor within it? How does he relate to his fellow Olympians?

9. James is the only one of the four protagonists who has no “Apollonian story”—that is, he’s not a musical artist. What do you consider to be his “art”? Which Olympian matches up with him the best, and why?

10. One of the tragic realities of war is its capacity to dehumanize those involved in it, and how often that can be an asset to survival. What are some of the ways in which you see the characters in the story being dehumanized in the Great War and surviving its horrors because of it? How do they fight to hold onto their humanity? Do you see this reflected in the Olympian narrative?

11. Early in the novel, Hazel expresses a deep concern that James will be changed by the war. Whom among the four protagonists do you see as being the most changed by the war: Hazel, James, Aubrey, or Colette? Would you argue that some of the changes are for the better?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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