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Lovely War follows the love stories of pianist Hazel Windicott and soldier James Alderidge; and relief volunteer Colette Fournier and jazz singer Aubrey Edwards. Shortly after Hazel met James, he is deployed to the front lines in France. Hazel decides to aid in the war effort by volunteering in a relief camp. There she meets Colette and Aubrey, kindred spirits in music. Set against the backdrop of World War I, the couples work to keep the flame of love alive through one of the bitterest wars in history. Narrated by Aphrodite, the goddess of love herself, the story is full of first kisses, flirty banter, and awkward meet-cutes. The couples’ love lives will be no walk in the park, however; not if the gods of Death and War have anything to say about it.
I liked that no matter how many elements and layers the narrative had, everything seemed to fit together. The mythology, war, romance, and philosophy aspects of the book all contributed in equal parts to the story. The same goes for the characters. Never did I feel that one character was being treated as a ‘third wheel’, even though only three of the four main characters were together at a time. Each character had their own arc and development that complemented one another’s. I appreciated how romance was not always the focus of the book, as each character had their own backstory that identified them as a person and not just someone in a relationship.
Since it was narrated by immortal gods, the story had an aspect of philosophy. Several chapters were made up of dialogue between the gods debating the true meaning of ‘love’ and ‘forever’; and whether they, as ancient deities, were even capable of it. The gods were said to envy mortals like Hazel, James, Colette, and Aubrey; broken souls who found someone as broken as themselves to love forever.
Reviewed by Joanna, Fairfield Area Library