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The End of Innocence

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  710 ratings  ·  111 reviews
On the eve of WWI, two students fall in love in Harvard's hallowed halls and must face a world at war from opposing sides

Helen Windship Brooks is struggling to find herself at the world-renowned Harvard-Radcliffe University when brooding German poet Wils bursts into her life. As they fall deeply in love on the brink of WWI, anti-German sentiments mount and Wils' future at
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published November 2012)
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  710 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Claire Cross
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Allegra Jordan sets the stage for Harvard 1914 in the dusk of America’s most innocent age. Steeped in Cambridge tradition and loyalty, Harvard and Radcliffe are the home of our heroes and heroine. As the story unfolds, the elegance of Bostonian aristocracy contrasts harshly with the brutal realities of WWI.

Helen and Wils are not remarkable characters; however the circumstance surrounding their relationship is unique.

Helen must manage as the only woman in an all-male writing course, while her m
Jan Moran
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How often can we say that read a great book today? One that made us think and feel, that made us a better person -- perhaps more tolerant, more forgiving -- for having read it? The End of Innocence is such a saga, a powerful story that opens on the eve of World War I at Harvard University in 1914.

The writing flows like fine aged wine, passages conjure a tumultuous past, and the story maintains taut tension. At the heart of the book is a love story, however, deep questions about reconciliation am
4.5 stars. What a fantastic WWI historical fiction novel. Thanks so much to NetGally and Sourcebooks Landmark Publishing for the Advanced Review copy of this book. THE END OF INNOCENCE is a thought-provoking and emotional memorial to the Great War that affected so many lives. Read my full review at:
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As soon I as finished reading this book I went to Twitter and began tweeting @AllegraJordan1. Why? Because I finished this book on the train during my commute home and I was crying on the train! Seriously. I was sitting there with my bottom lip quivering and the tears in my eyes and cursing her for writing such a beautiful book.

To say I loved The End of Innocence is an understatement. This book was gorgeous, poetic, and romantic despite revolving around WWI which I was afraid was going to make
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Startling and powerful, this novel examines opposing forces during and after the first World War, with conflicts that are deeply personal as well as political. Harvard sets the stage for Helen, the Americn daughter of a conservative scholar and an activist mother, to meet Wils and Riley, German poets and cousins, whose German and British ancestries land them on opposing sides in the European trenches. Campus politics echo the intense jingoism and violence of the time as the war intensifies overs ...more
Karyn Gayle
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I usually prefer non-fiction to fiction and am not one who normally seeks a "romance novel." I simply read this book because the author is someone with whom I went to high school. Allegra Jordan was/is absolutely brilliant, so I thought I'd give her book a try. I am so glad I did! This is an extremely well written novel, rich in historical information with a story line that will keep you turning the pages (or, in my case, pushing the “next” button on the Kindle). “Harvard 1914” presents well dev ...more
The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan is the heart-wrenching story of Wils Brandl and Helen Brooks, two star-crossed students of Harvard during the beginnings of WWI. This story tore at my heart unlike anything I've read before. Wils, in his last year at Harvard, is a German student and is summoned home by his mother to fight for the kaiser. Unwilling and hoping the war will pass, he stays, but only to see his childhood friend die and German racism and hatred on the rise with his fellow classma ...more
Mark Peterson
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Allegra Jordan replaces Ayn Rand as my new favorite author. In Harvard 1914: A War Romance, Jordan places the reader on Harvard University’s campus as the world marches toward its first major war. The main character, Helen Brooks, is thrown into the middle of this conflict between the world’s aristocracy when she becomes romantically linked to cousins who would eventually fight on opposite sides of the war, Riley Spencer (an Englishman) and Wilhelm Brandl (a German).

Though Jordan’s main romance
Aug 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: firstreads
I was supposed to win this book through FirstReads but never received it. I am writing this review and giving some sort of rating because I think GoodReads' algorithm is not going to let me win another FirstReads until I post some kind of review on this one. I will post a real review of this if I ever get to read it. And I hope I do because the other reviews here sound like this book is wonderful and exactly what I would like.
Lindsay Mullen
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again, I was lucky to get a sneak peak at this great work. Allegra Jordan's novel tells the story of two Harvard students who fall in love on the eve of WWI. The twist? Helen is from Boston and her love, Wils, is from Germany. It's a story of love and loyalty for a couple on two different sides of war. Beautifully written, I would recommend this to readers who love romance or war - it appeals to both.
Dec 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is GREAT!! Really enjoying it thus far & think my GoodReads friends will also. Historical fiction set in my favorite era with wonderful writing. The author uses beautiful, strong verbs. And she has connections to Bham. Put this on your list of novels to read.
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
The End Of Innocence
Allegra Jordan

What it's all about...

Students at Harvard, spies, soldiers, Boston wealthy families, Germans...this book has a mix of everything.'s all very serious...very serious stuff. What is always fascinating about this era is that women didn't have any rights at all. Men were always leaving to go to war. Love often didn't conquer everything. Helen likes Riley first but realizes that it is a huge mistake and falls deeply in love with Wils. Unfortunately Wils's
Tara Chevrestt
I wasn't really sure what to expect from this one. I was drawn to this title because of the young lady attending Harvard (Radcliffe, actually) during WWI. Technically she can't attend Harvard--they didn't allow women--but she is permitted--invited--to attend one class on the exclusively male campus and there, she mingles with poets, playboys, and Germans, who during this time, were not quite welcome in the States anymore.

The campus is rife with hatred and students wishing to find someone to blam
Allegra Jordan's The End of Innocence is a beautifully written story set at the beginning of World War I. Harvard University's campus takes center stage in this heart-breaking tale of love, loss, and new beginnings. I really don't know anything about Harvard's history or campus but this story made me want to learn more. The descriptions of the campus and the buildings were wonderful and I enjoyed learning about the building of the memorial chapel and the two memorials in it. I liked how the auth ...more
Viviane Cordeiro
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is official: this is my first literary hangover of the year. *sobs*

WWI & WWII are very sensible subjects for me: I’ve been researching about those conflicts for such a long time and I really like to try my hand into a fiction/romance novel sometimes. A couple of months ago I attended an exhibition about the lives of German immigrants in Brazil in late 1930s and early 1940s – they had endured such a hard time over here due to the prejudice but many of them survived through it all and succe
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Helen Brooks is young woman in 1914 New England that is having troubles at home. Her mother is a suffragist that is getting arrested for distributing family planning materials and seems to care more about her causes than her daughter Helen. Her mother’s activities have caused her to lose the man that she thought would ask for her hand in marriage.

At this low point, Helen meets the dashing British playboy, Riley Spencer, and his German cousin Wils Brandl. Both are rowing teammates of her brother
Mark Peterson
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Allegra Jordan replaces Ayn Rand as my favorite author. In Harvard 1914: A War Romance, Jordan places the reader on Harvard University's campus as the world marches toward its first major war. The main character, Helen Brooks, is thrown into the middle of this conflict between the world's aristocracy when she becomes romantically linked to cousins who would eventually fight on opposite sides of the war, Riley Spencer (an Englishman) and Wilhelm Brandl (a German).

Though Jordan's main romance in t
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Helen and Wils meet at Harvard. They fall in love. But this is not going to be smooth sailing. They are on opposite sides of a great divide. Wils is German and his mother is pressurizing him to return. Anti German sentiments in America are now high and the few Germans who are around know that they are under suspicion of being spies.

The story of Helen and Wils and other characters which form the story are all highly individualistic people. Each one carries within them a little story, which forms
I received a free copy of this book.

I still kind of have my troubles with books set in WWI but after two books dealing with this time I really start to reconsider this position. This book definitely was amazing.

The book is about two young people, Helen and Wils, who meet at Harvard University in 1914. He is of German descent and thus quite a lot of problems occur. Since the war in Europe has already started and news have reached America there is a anti-German atmosphere Wils has to deal with. A
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful novel set at Harvard University as WWI is breaking out. The story is one of young men being pulled into the war by their respective countries. I loved the historical detail and how the world of young men being sent to war was set against Helen's mother's campaigning for birth control and women's rights. It is interesting that I have read a lot of books about the Japanese internment during WWII on the west coast - Farewell to Manzanar, The Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Swe ...more
Jackie Insinger
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been more than a decade since I've read such a thoughtfully written, beautifully crafted, expertly researched novel. Allegra Jordan has created a truly profound love story between such vivid and sympathetic characters set between the war in Europe and Harvard University. The details of these characters are so deliberate, and so colorful, that it was very difficult to let them go when I reached the last page! Not only did I lose myself in the story, but I learned so many intricacies about th ...more
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-books
I Absolutely LOVE this book! Can't wait to talk to Allegra Jordan about her amazing book at book club later this month!!!!
A terrific historical fiction novel set during WW1 and Harvard university.
The book weaves together a wonderful story, history and poetry.
I could not put it down, I loved this book.
I know I have read a great book when it stays with you, long after putting the book down.
Sep 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
To be honest, I didn't get very far into this, because it reads like a bad screenplay and not a novel. The characters are walking cliches and the dialogue is right out of a 1980s BBC/ABC coproduction.. "Stop right there. I'll not hear it about Wils. He is ten times the man his cousin Riley is - who you were quite keen on dancing with."

My favorite part is the author bio. "She curates the number-two Google-ranked reconciliation poetry website." Neat!
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2014
Set mostly in Harvard and the trenches of WWI during the early part of the war, Harvard 1914 is a beautiful and expertly written historical fiction novel that contains a touching lovestory, but is so much more than "just" a romance. Including themes of tolerance and forgiveness as well as the horrors of war, the story is touching without ever being cheesy and heartbreaking as well as hopeful. A wonderful read all around!
Enjoyed this historical novel about a Radcliffe student from Massachusetts who falls in love with a thoughtful Harvard student from Germany who is unwilling to get drawn into WWI but ultimately chooses loyalty to his homeland and returns home to fight for his country. Where this book worked best was in its descriptions of Harvard and of the moral dilemmas faced by the characters.
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Appropriately, I finished reading this book on November 11th. The End of Innocence is a gripping, well-written novel. I have read hundreds of works of historical fiction, and I was pleased with Allegra Jordan's first novel. Her research is meticulous, her characters believable, and her prose (and poetry) flow. I want to write as Jordan does! Bravo!
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an excellent read! For my in-depth review, please visit my blog:
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars!
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time getting into this book, but I kept at it, and ended up loving it! Would have given it 5 stars if it hadn't been for the slow start.
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book kept me reading. It's a love story, but about loving your enemies and seeing past your differences. Based on true events.
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I am an author who loves historical fiction. In addition, I have worked in media and crisis communication. These days I work in community building, working with communities so that they may live into a more hopeful future. I'm a regular blogger for and my articles, cases, and book reviews have appeared in USA Today, TEDx, and in publications by Duke, Harvard, and UT-Austin. I cura ...more