Lovely War discussion questions

  1. The title of Lovely War comes from a comical song the soldiers sing at one point: “Oh, it’s a lovely war, Who wouldn’t want to be a soldier, eh? Oh, it’s a shame to take the pay…” What else do you think the author means by “lovely” war? Is love itself a kind of war?  
  2. Berry begins the story with Greek gods arguing, and then looking down on mere mortals to see what true love looks like. How does this setup give meaning to the stories of Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Collette? Would this be the same story without the mythological narrators?
  3. How does the historical context affect the story? Would this be the same story if it had taken place during peacetime?
  4. Hazel at one point wonders how one nation produced “both humble souls and killers” (p. 339). Have you ever wondered the same thing? 
  5. While this isn’t an epistolary novel (a novel written in letters), Hazel and James, and to some extent, Aubrey and Collette, continue their relationship via letters. How do these exchanges alter their relationship? What do the letters reveal to the reader that conversation cannot?
  6. Laughter plays a large part in James and Hazel’s story, as well as the story of Aubrey and James with their fellow soldiers. Do you think sometimes laughing is “the only way to survive it all”? (p. 207)
  7. The author does a splendid job of describing first love, as well as second chances at love. Who were you most rooting for? Did you see one or more as the main character? Was it one of the mortals or one of the gods?
  8. As the saying goes, “love conquers all.” Aphrodite states her case as love conquering war, race, distance, etc. Do you think it’s true that “love conquers all”?
  9. How does music factor into the story? Who has it, who doesn’t, and what this mean for each character? Does James have his own kind of art? 
  10. Mortality is brought into sharp focus, in contrast with the Olympian narrators, who are immortal. Aphrodite contends at the start that “It’s because [the mortals are] weak and damaged that they can love.” (p. 13) Eventually Hephaestus concedes that death and frailty are essential for real love (p. 446). What do you think about these assertions?
  11. Who is most changed by the war? Were any of the changes for good?
  12. What do you think of the cover? What does it symbolize to you?

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