Let them start their dreadful wars, let destruction rain down, and let plague sweep through, but I will still be here, doing my work, holding humankind together with love like this.
I honestly do not remember how I came across this book. I think it was Book Riot’s All the Books, discussing it when it was released? Either way, I highly recommend this book in audiobook format, if you have the chance. The cast is amazing, the music is inspiring!
by Julie Berry
Published Date: March 2019
Read Date: June 2019
Format: audio book
Genre: historical fiction, romance, fantasy
Page Count: 480 pages
Rating: 4.5/5 Moose
On the verge of a second world war, the goddess of love, Aphrodite, and the god of war, Ares, find themselves caught in the middle of an affair by Hephaestus. Given a fair trial, Aphrodite begins to explain the story of two romances during WWI to prove or answer the age old question: Why are love and war eternally drawn to one another? And which is more powerful?
Hazel – a British pianist who ends up going to work with the YMCA during World War I. She meets James right before he is shipped off to war, and befriends Colette while working to entertain American troops.
James – a British soldier and sharp shooter. Meets Hazel at a dance right before he is shipped off to war.
Aubrey – a member of the 15th(?) infantry, one of the black infantries from the US. He is a jazz musician, playing piano and percussion in the army.
Colette – A Belgium girl who lost her whole family at the beginning of the war. She works for the YMCA as well, and befriends Hazel. She also has an amazing singing voice.
Greek gods: Aphrodite, Ares, Hephaestus, Hades, Apollo
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
I’ll be honest, this book is not what I was expecting it to be. I thought it was a book about the Greek gods fighting in WWI and WWII, but instead the Greek Gods are used as the frame of two love and war stories, as well as the narrators. Nonetheless, this book is still a wonderful book.
So much of historical fiction takes place around world wars. They’re a bit of a romantic time period, I suppose. Kiss your girl good-bye, who knows when or if you’ll see her again! That being said, I don’t read many historical fiction books around wars (despite this review and my last one.) If it’s set against a war, I want the book to be realistic, and with that comes horrors and heartache I am not always willing to face, even in my fiction. But if the book shies away from these horrors, what’s the point? As the premise of the book states, Love and war are too intertwined. We are given two love stories: Hazel and James, and Colette and Aubrey. We are not guaranteed that anyone will live, and there is even less guarantee those who live will be intact both mentally and physically.
Maybe part of me felt I needed a good cry, potentially.
I think what I love even more about this book is the author’s willingness to share where she started her research, in case something is interesting to the reader. The book explores parts of World War I that I at least was not taught: why African-American soldiers chose to fight in the war, even when they had to deal with more risks, as it is portrayed in the book. It was a chance to prove to their country that they were men to be taken seriously to be considered equal with their white brethren.
Obviously you can tell how that’s gone in history.
Berry gives an extensive list of nonfiction books to check out for further information: on WWI in general, on these troops, and on the roles of women in the war. On top of dual beautifully woven love stories, there is a chance to learn more.
This feels like a quick review for such a beautiful book, and perhaps it is. If you love historical fiction, especially in WWI, then give this book a shot. It is not necessarily a book about the Greek Gods, though I truly enjoy their role in the book. And really, give the audio book a try. I have had 1920s and 1940s music on far more frequently since I read this book.