Lovely War by Julie Berry
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
From the heights of the Royal Albert Hall to the gore of the trenches at the front, Berry’s novel uses the sweeping backdrop of World War One to explore themes of love, connection, forgiveness, and beauty. Jayne Entwhistle as omniscient and occasionally omnipotent Aphrodite, delivers a bravado performance as four young people find, and then lose, their soulmates as the war rages.
Entwhistle endows the wartime thunderclap of sweeping romance between a soldier boy and a piano girl from London’s East End with a heartfelt dreaminess, and, as Hazel volunteers to entertain the troops in France, embodies a whole cast of characters with terrific nuance and sensitivity. A secondary storyline concerns the introduction of jazz music to Europe via Army bands and the treatment of Black troops in a segregated military. Allan Corduner and Dion Graham narrate other commentaries, and that narrative framing and considered musical interludes give the production an epic aspect.
Lovely War is a tear-jerker, a good read-alike for fans of Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea, recalling the all-consuming romance of Ashley Hope Perez’s Out of Darkness, with historical scene setting to equal Monica Hesse’s The Girl in the Blue Coat.
— Wendy Stephens