Losing Julia
Jonathan Hull
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Buy *Losing Julia* online Losing Julia

Jonathan Hull
Dell Publishing
400 pages
Copyright 2000
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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"Early on the morning of October 18, 1980, in a clearing near a woods in eastern France, I found the body of an elderly American named Patrick Delaney slumped against a small granite monument that bears the names of 152 American soldiers who died on that date in 1918. On the ground next to him was a worn leather-bound diary, a pen, an empty glass and a bottle of scotch dating from the 1920's, its label covered with signatures. This is his story."

Curled Up With a Good BookSo begins Losing Julia, a haunting and beautiful exploration of the concept of loss, whether it be through the horrors of war or the decay of old age. Patrick Delaney, in a nursing home, surrounded by the death of his hospital mates, recounts the story behind the loss of his one great love, Julia, the girlfriend of his best friend lost in the war. When he meets Julia years after the war at the memorial, he immediately begins a tragic affair which leaves him unable to forget the woman he believes is his destiny, despite the obstacles of his wife and child. During the short duration of their affair, he leads Julia through the French countryside, avoiding the discussion of Daniel's death he cannot bear to initiate. In the nursing home, much as on the battlefield, Delaney watches as he loses one person after another to an undignified death. With one last burst of energy, he returns to France to try to find the woman he lost decades ago, only to find her grand-daughter Natalie miraculously tending the monument.

A sense of waste pervades this novel--a waste of life and potential, be it youth on the battlefield or the wasting away of the body, especially the ultimate sadness of surviving so much to die in such a way. Delaney remains the last man living from both his army pals and his nursing home freinds. The certainty of death resonates throughout the novel, as does Patrick's fear of losing rationality and senses, be it in war or old age. The question of memory plays a large role--what we want to forget, what we want to remember. The loss of his memory plagues Delaney, as his past begins to slip away, first the details, then the face of his beloved Julia. With limited time, he struggles to put his life in perspective.

Hull ties all these pieces together wonderfully, presenting a poignant contrast between horror and beauty, love and war. The description of war-time France, the beauty of the countryside intermixed with the horror of the battlefield, is breathtaking. The novel moves effortlessly between the past and present, carrying us between the two almost imperceptably, presenting the ultimatel parallels between the landscape of the nursing home and WWI. As a sad tale of romance and war that spans nearly the entire century, Losing Julia is highly recommended.

© 2002 by Kristy Bowen for Curled Up With a Good Book

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