Last night I dreamed that I met a young boy who told me with the saddest eyes that he was never born and I asked how could that be and he explained very slowly and quietly that his father had died at the front. And then I looked behind the boy and I saw hundreds of the thousands of children, just standing there. Infinitely mute.
Maybe I saw her sitting on the beach too, or maybe it was just the expression on Daniel's face when he talked about her, but for me, Julia soon became my own escape from the war; my personal guardian angel who beckoned me away from the madness every time I closed my eyes. Daniel offered hundreds of dots and I connected them, until the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen emerged, my angel in the trenches; my incantation against despair. My Julia.
I miss my books. I gave most of them away when I sold the house. I had 2,142 of them, not counting the books at my store, which I considered mine as well, my darling pets up for adoption. The kids took what they wanted and the rest I gave to a local library. I've felt naked ever since, like a soldier stripped of his weapons.
Like most bookworms I read so as not to be alone, which often annoys those who are trying to make conversation with me. Lately I've taken to rereading the classics of my youth—a rare chance to relive the past—though I must confess that some of the books aren't what I remember at all.
Books aren't just my defenses, the sandbags I use to fortify my position; they are also the building blocks of my soul, and I am the sum of all I read. The truth is, reading about life has always proved much more satisfactory than living it, and certainly reading about people is far more interesting than actually sitting across from them at, say, a dinner party. On the page people come alive: they have sex, they travel, the reveal their deepest thoughts, they struggle against overwhelming odds, they search for meaning. In person, well, few dinner partners do any of these things.
by Jonathan Hull
I read this in April 2000. Here's my journal entry:
Wonderful, wonderful novel!! I became engrossed from the very beginning, yet tried to read slowly, savoring each sentence. I had some difficulty with the three timelines, initially, but it didn't take too long to get used to the transitions. Beautifully written. Funny, yet sad. Thought-provoking. Makes me want to read more about WWI. Rating: Excellent!!
I reread Losing Julia the following year for a f2f book club. Here's my journal entry for March 2001:
Beautifully crafted story of love, reflection, hope and regret.
This is the second time I've read Losing Julia. It wasn't nearly the pager-turner as with the first reading, but I enjoyed it on a different level just as much. I got more out of the beautiful writing this time. I knew the storyline, so I wasn't as anxious to find out what was going to happen. Oh, I love this book. I got a huge lump in my throat and teary-eyed as I read the last few pages. I have dog-eared dozens of pages. I want to write a fan letter to Mr. Hull. Rating: 10/10 Excellent!!