Read My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young Online


Set on the Western Front, in London and in Paris, MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU is a moving and brilliant novel of love, class and sex in wartime, and how war affects those left behind as well as those who fight. While Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke fight for their country, their survival and their sanity in the trenches of Flanders, Nadine Waveney, Julia Locke and Rose LockSet on the Western Front, in London and in Paris, MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU is a moving and brilliant novel of love, class and sex in wartime, and how war affects those left behind as well as those who fight. While Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke fight for their country, their survival and their sanity in the trenches of Flanders, Nadine Waveney, Julia Locke and Rose Locke do what they can at home. Beautiful, obsessive Julia and gentle, eccentric Peter are married: each day Julia goes through rituals to prepare for her beloved husband's return. Nadine and Riley, only eighteen when the war starts, and with problems of their own already, want above all to make promises - but how can they when the future is not in their hands? And Rose? Well, what did happen to the traditionally brought-up women who lost all hope of marriage, because all the young men were dead?...

Title : My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007361434
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You Reviews

  • Lance Greenfield
    2018-10-23 19:33

    Until I was almost half way through this book, I was thinking There's not much point in reading this, as the title says it all. I could see it coming. One of the main characters would meet a violent death with so many things left unsaid. I was wrong!This book is definitely worth reading. It is multi-threaded, which I always love. The love stories are varied and bring out the contrasts in the way different people deal with situations and with the people closest to themselves. There is a great deal about the effects of war and of class distinctions. An image of the templated postcard for the use of returning injured soldiers which inspired Louisa Young to write this story appears on the back cover, suitably completed to match the characters in the book. I have posted a photo of this card with the book description. I don't go along with Tatler's comment, 'Birdsong for the new millennium.' I admit that don't really understand it. Apart from anything else, I really don't think that it is fair to compare the two books. But then, I may be biased, as Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War is one of my all time favourites. Also, how can a book about WW1 be something for the new millennium?One strong aspect of the book that I found really interesting and thought-provoking, were the descriptions of the early days of plastic surgery. Great advances in this field have always been made as a consequence of the horrific injuries inflicted on combatants in wars. Others benefit, of course, but which set of patients appreciate those benefits the most?Quote (definition): Dismember: to take to bits. Remember: to put back together.As with most books which really do get inside the stories of war, one is left with the thought Why would we ever let this happen again? But we do. We never learn. I was only awarding My Dear three stars when I reached the half-way point, but it thoroughly deserved four or more by the time I read the final pages.

  • Biblibio
    2018-11-07 23:32

    A novel that didn't quite seem to know what it wanted to be, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is a surprisingly rounded WWI story that goes beyond the typical narrative. Louisa Young writes best when describing the harsh realities of war and makes no concessions regarding uncomfortable yet true situations. And yet My Dear I Wanted to Tell You also attempts to be a romance book, and there precisely it comes to a screeching halt.The characters in My Dear I Wanted to Tell You enter the story strangely underdeveloped - their motives and reasons for falling in love are never quite explained - and never quite recover. Though the reader spends ample time with them, there is little to grasp, little to relate to. Young shines in writing about their world and their surroundings, far less their characters and inner workings.The writing, too, doesn't quite know where to fit in. At times, Young's writing is stellar, particularly in her descriptions of war (from all directions - the front, the nurses, those comfortably at home, those less comfortably at home...). Other times, however, the writing feels stilted and awkward, with forced exclamations making their way into the soldiers' speech just to make them sound more realistic. It's a jarring shift, one that can easily throw the reader off balance.While there were aspects I liked and admired very much, on the whole this is a novel that felt too unbalanced to be truly good. Character development was weak (with the exception of one standout character who was repeatedly sidelined, alas), as were the somewhat unnecessary and unexplained love stories (which I felt the book could have done without, or at least have had them at a much lower key). Recommended mostly to readers with a particular interest in WWI, if only for its sharp historical gaze. Not a bad book by any means, but one that is unsure of itself and remains quite rough around the edges.

  • Audra (Unabridged Chick)
    2018-10-26 22:41

    Excuse me, I need to wipe away tears so I can type. And some drool, because the writing in this book had me open-mouthed with awe/horror/amazement/delight. And then some.This book has it all: pathos, romance, angst -- Kierkegaard-ian angst! -- anger, joy, beauty, and an articulation of war that is cinematic and breathtaking and disturbing. Set in the years before World War I, and during, the story follows five people -- a couple in love, forbidden due to class differences; a married couple deeply in love, separated by the impacts of war; and a nurse with a medical facility revolutionizing facial reconstruction surgery. Young's take on World War I reminded me very much of Saving Private Ryan's infamous opening -- impossible to ignore, mesmerising, unforgettable, and disturbing. The two relationships featured are predictable in some ways -- a couple facing class differences and parental disapproval find wartime changes society enough to allow them to attempt a courtship (long distance, of course) while another couple, formerly happily married, finds war changes them to the point of being unrecognizable. For me, the hook of the story wasn't so much the will they/won't they but the need to see if anyone would find a measure of happiness in the end.I think this is what I wanted Atonement to be, or at least, this is how I wanted to feel when I finished Atonement. I'm awestruck, and gobsmacked, and I'm churning through the mental images painted by Young. I've read some reviews that criticized Young's writing style but for me, it was one of the draws. I loved it, from the first page: some stream-of-consciousness (which harkened to the Modernist writers), some elegantly obtuse passages (imitating the layers of decorum and etiquette some of the characters are forced to embody), boldly graphic scenes that literally conveyed the violence of war ... This was the kind of book that makes me yearn to be a writer and despair I'll ever be one!Should I keep gushing?

  • Sam Woodfield
    2018-11-06 20:38

    I pre-release reviewed this novel for a UK bookseller.Although I can't quite pin-point why, there was something about this book which really sucked me into the world of those within it. The writting is nothing outstanding, the story doesn't have any dramatic climaxes or surprising plot twists, but Young writes in such a way that is still gripping and compelling from start to finish.Like many novels, this is based during World War 1, but unlike other books of it's type, the focus is on the 'normal' lives of those involved. We meet Rose, the cousin of a serving offier working in a rehabilitation unit for wounded soldiers, Nadine, a young VAD doing her bit at home and abroad, and Julia, a young wife who struggles to find a way to do her part as anything other than a beautiful wife. All of these women are connected with Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke, out serving in the trenches, and the story looks at the impact of the war on all of these characters regardless of their role in the fight and the way in which it carves out their futures. The novel leaves you wondering 'what happens next?' and 'what will the overall impact of the war be on these young lives?'.I wouldnt say this novel set me alight, but I did find it a brilliant read, and the closer I got to the end, I struggled more and more to put it down! Well worth a read.

  • Denise
    2018-10-26 23:50

    This book is constructed around two little-known details of WW1 history. The first is the postcard that the book gives its name to. To save time and unnecessary distress to loved ones back home, the army designed a standard postcard for injured men to complete. This allowed bad news to travel swiftly back to England without having to go through the censors, but also restricted the men to using an emotionless tick box system. The postcard started with the words ‘My Dear …….. I wanted to tell you, before my telegram arrives, that I was admitted to …… Clearing Station on ………”. The first blank was the space for the soldier to write the name of his wife/mother/lover; the second was for the name of the medical clearing station; and the third was for the date of his injury. The postcard continues, providing the soldier with a tick box to indicate the severity of his injury. He could delete one word from the sentence – ‘I have a slight / serious wound” – and this important option is really the centre of the book and a passionate love story. A small hesitation - an indecision between worrying a lover with the knowledge of a serious wound, or protecting her by leaving the word 'slight wound ' on the card, leads to a tangle of misunderstanding, betrayal and mistrust.The second true historical story that is central to this novel is the work of Harold Gillies – a doctor who was also an Army Major. After experiencing front line fighting in the trenches, Major Gillies returned home to open a hospital in Aldershot which was dedicated to facial reconstruction; treating the facial wounds that were very common during trench fighting and carrying out pioneering work in plastic surgery to try to make his patients look as normal as possible. After the Battle of the Somme, Gillies treated 2,000 cases of jaw and facial mutilation and a key part of this novel is the telling of the tragic stories of some of the patients that were treated during this time.Louisa Young writes her novels with a real historical knowledge and authenticity. The technical descriptions of the facial surgery, the emotional descriptions of the despair of young men who found themselves turned into monsters by one bullet or bomb were deeply moving. One beautifully written scene describes the horrified reaction of a barmaid when encountering one of the soldiers who is in the middle of facial reconstruction; the scene is not rushed or overplayed and the sense of sadness and empathy is overwhelming.The characters and stories in the novel have stayed with me for several months. Unusually for me I can remember scenes and plots in vivid detail, which is definitely the sign of a good book.

  • Alison Wassell
    2018-10-17 20:58

    The test of a great book, for me, is whether or not I’m still thinking about it days later. I have a feeling this engrossing novel will be in my thoughts for some time to come. I’m always drawn to books set during the First World War. My paternal grandfather fought in the trenches and, although he lived to be 97, remained largely silent about his experiences. This is one of the themes of My Dear I Wanted To Tell You; the unspeakable horror of war, and the difficulties encountered by those caught up in it as they attempt to return, often irrevocably changed both physically and mentally, to their pre-war lives.The novel focuses not only on the experiences of the soldiers, Riley and Peter, but on the lives of the women left behind. Nadine, Kate and Julia are three very different characters, and respond to events in very different ways. I found myself caring about them all. There are some gruesome descriptions, but I’d expect nothing less from a novel set in this horrific period. There are also some heartbreakingly moving scenes. The ending manages to be optimistic without being over-sentimental. It’s early days, but this may well be one of my favourite reads of 2011.

  • Jacki (Julia Flyte)
    2018-11-10 18:30

    This is the story about two soldiers during World War 1 and the women left behind in England who love them. There are five main characters. Riley Purefoy, from a working class background, loves upper class Nadine Waverney despite her mother's disapproval. He volunteers as a soldier at the start of World War 1 - given the choice between volunteering for a year or for the duration of the war, he chooses the latter, because he doesn't want to spend an entire year in the army. His commanding officer will be Peter Locke, who has left his wife Julia and cousin Rose behind in England. While Julia pines for her husband, Rose signs up as a nurse in a hospital specialising in facial reconstructions.The first half of the book is about the experiences that the five have adapting to the realities of war and the shifts it brings about in their relationships. In the second half, Riley suffers a serious injury which will affect all of the characters in different ways.I have mixed feelings about this book. It did a very good job of conveying the various facets of war, the experience for those in the trenches, in the hospitals and stranded at home. There were parts that were beautifully written but at other times the choppiness of the narrative became hard to take. I didn't really feel caught up in it until the second half, when it settles down and became (for me) far more involving and moving. The ending is somewhat contrived, but also genuinely satisfying.The characters could have been better developed. Riley and Nadine's relationship is the central thread, but too often we were told about how they felt for one another rather than feeling it. Rose is a wonderful character, but she is frequently sidelined. Peter is nice enough but less than interesting and his wife Julia is a vapid and tedious character on whom far too much time is wasted. Clearly that couple were included to show a broader canvas of reactions to the war, but they didn't develop in any significant way or add much to the book. Another review here mentions how you can see the author's "workings" as she constructed the story, and that's how I felt also.

  • Alex Nye
    2018-10-25 19:41

    Have just finished reading My Dear I Wanted to Tell You and really enjoyed it. Hadn't realised that Louisa Young is also the author of LION BOY, so I've just started to read that too.The novel is set during the First World War, but tells the story in a very original way, much more so than most historical fiction. We really get inside the heads of the characters. What really grabbed me at the beginning of the book was the spiky character of the boy Riley, when he falls in the Round Pound in Kensington, and ends up being linked or connected to a 'well-to-do' family which takes him out of his own class background to some extent. What I liked about this was the candid way in which the class differences and prejudices were looked at, in a manner that was fresh and straightforward. Riley's own awareness of trying to lift himself towards better things, and his family's reaction to this are all quite evocatively told. The writing style is very pleasurable to read, beautifully wordy and almost a touch indulgent - but I like that. what's wrong with being a little indulgent, especially when the reading matter is so difficult? I suppose this is what sweetens the pill to some extent, because the topic is a grim one.For me personally it was an eye-opener to another world - both of my grandfathers died very young because of that war and I therefore never met either of them. My own father (who sadly died in 2006) grew up in a fatherless household, never knowing his own father... and I always grew up with a profound awareness of this. My other grandfather joined the war at 17 and must have had a similar experience to Riley in the book. This was an insight for me, into the hidden world of my own grandparents, and the author managed to make it accessible in a modern way. I would highly recommend this book. Although dealing with such shocking and brutal material, it also carries a ring of hope with it. Wasn't too sure if the pill was a little bit over-sweetened towards the end of the book - but, what the hell? Enjoyed it anyway.

  • Jess Schira
    2018-10-29 18:53

    I am going to begin by saying that Louisa Young has a very lovely, lyrical writing style. It was her writing, more than the actual story that kept me turning the pages. As far as the novel itself goes, I am far less impressed. To me, this book simply had to much going on. I feel that the author felt that she had a whole bunch of things she wanted to write about that included art, beauty, WWI, and young love, and crammed them all together in one story. She did a wonderful job of cramming, and the subject matters do flow together nicely, but she failed to create characters that inspired me, or even ones that I even cared about, and if I don’t care about the characters, I have a difficult time enjoying the book.The other problem I had with the book was a minor issue, but it is a personal pet peeve. The other switched from using one character’s first name to their last. I realize that she did this as a means of illustrating the changes in the characters life, but none the less it made me a little crazy.The novel is orderly and nothing about it feels rushed. While it is a bit heavy to be a beach read, it would be a lovely choice for anyone who is looking to pass a rainy afternoon lost in another world.

  • Nette
    2018-11-06 23:54

    One of the most powerful books I've read about WWI: remember the battlefield scenes in "Saving Private Ryan"? This book is full of equally graphic and brilliant scenes. There's also a sweet and realistic love story and a fascinating subplot about reconstructive facial surgery. A couple of reviewers here were QUITE put off by a one-paragraph description of gay sex and the occasional use of the "f word." Ooh, shame on the author for making soldiers say naughty words when mud and rats and corpses and body parts are raining down on top of them. "Really, that sort of profanity is so unnecessary!" Honestly, I want to track these people down and punch them in their fucking necks, but Goodreads would probably ban me.

  • Anastasia
    2018-10-18 00:43

    Fino a poco fa io neanche sapevo che esistesse questo libro. In realtà questo non è nemmeno il primo libro su cui poserei gli occhi se fossi in libreria, e l'ultimo che sceglierei in un prestito bibliotecario. Sono andata fuori dai miei prevedibili gusti e ho tentato anche di andare contro un'istintiva diffidenza, solo per poter partecipare per la prima volta al gruppo di lettura di questo mese un po' primaverile un po' invernale di "The Perks of Being a Bookworm", primo lettura collettiva in lingua per la sottoscritta. Non so nemmeno io da dove mi arriva tutta questa intraprendenza: ma direi che questo è tutto un anno dedicato a "libri a cui non arriveresti mai con i tuoi soli piedini". Presentimenti che avevo prima della lettura? Da quello che mi diceva la Garzanti, parlandomi di corrispondenza fitta, di donne che dovevano resistere dall'assenza dei loro amati soldati in guerra, ho detto: "noh, e se poi è stucchevole? mi salteranno i nervi un'altra volta".Però avevo proprio voglia di darmi all'avventura e ho sfidato mari e monti per non cedere al mio pregiudizio: dopotutto la copertina era carina, non sembrava neanche promettere per forza sciocchezzuola da harmony un po' historical-fiction un po' cerco-di-essere-serio-ma-non-sono-capace. Prometteva semplicemente un buon libro con una sua dignità.A fine lettura devo rendere conto del mio rapporto travagliato, con alti e bassi incerti.A quanto pare già dalla trama c'è un'assurda divergenza di opinioni, perché chiunque abbia letto effettivamente codesto libro dice: tratta dell''esperienza dei soldati inglesi in trincea nella prima guerra mondiale, con a capo il protagonista Riley Purefoy, che naturalmente c'ha pure la storia d'amore, allo stesso tempo attorno a questo nodo principale s'attaccano le storie di altri personaggi come il maggiore Peter e la moglie Julia dalla sindrome del devo-essere-perfettina-o-la-mia-vita-non-avrà-un-senso, l'infermiera Rose e insomma è un po' un intreccio di situazioni tutte correlate a questo infausto periodo.La Garzanti invece sostiene che questo sia un libro sull'attesa da parte delle tre protagoniste: Nadine, Rose e Julia, quando di fatto quest'ultime appariranno una volta sì e tre no. Quindi attenti: la nostra casa editrice vi vende una storia diversa, che a quanto pare ha rovinato le aspettative di molti agnellini ignari.Sicuramente l'aspetto più saldo, la carta da giocare migliore della Young nella resa di questo suo progetto è la guerra in sé, specialmente se si tratta degli effetti traumatici sui soldati: tutta la parte su Riley in ospedale che cerca di recuperare la vita, lo spirito dai rottami che sono la sua faccia maciullata, la vita interrotta e una realtà da riscoprire dopo anni e anni passati dietro a macchine da guerra e uccisioni di massa ha una sua realtà consolidata. Tutto questo, seppur non nella maniera più mirabile e indimenticabile del mondo, è reso a suo modo bene e gli devo forse la parte più apprezzata e goduta di questa lettura (detto così sembro sadica). Non posso dire di aver pensato sempre lo stesso durante la lettura: all'inizio, al contrario, mi pareva che la Young arrancasse, ad esempio Riley infilza una baionetta in un soldato nemico per la prima volta e non ci viene detto niente su quale possa essere stato lo shock, come se non fosse importante e come se lui stesso non avesse avuto nessuna particolare reazione. Tutto il primo capitolo da quando Riley è effettivamente partito per il fronte è ancora insicuro, un po' vago e superficiale, ma poi fortunatamente prende una sua via e si possono dimenticare gli inciampi. In realtà sull'esperienza più diretta possibile, scontri fisici etc, non ci viene detto molto: posso capire che l'autrice abbia voluto sorvolare su quest'aspetto per passare subito al dopo, all'elaborazione, fare il contrario avrebbe voluto dire riservare il libro per un pubblico ristretto e dallo stomaco tenace. Immagino che renderlo troppo enfaticamente e dettagliatamente avrebbe significato ridicolizzarlo, portarlo ad una sorta di overture macabra che si discosta completamente dalla realtà; mentre riportare semplicemente in una sorta di rapporto analitico e asettico i meri fatti sarebbe equivalso a spogliarlo di qualsiasi sensazione di orrore. Insomma: ha saputo forse deviare da questo compito un po' arduo. Lo stile adottato è a tratti semplice, di quelli che sono diffusissimi in tantissimi libri contemporanei: senza particolari fronzoli, frasi che non superano l'unica e sola riga, ripetizioni di imprecazione come per rendere la gravità della situazione etc etc; a tratti - come nel prologo - si lancia in una sorta di parentesi biologica, secca ma potente, con tono sentimentale. Louisa Young non è da ritenersi nella stessa grande barca di gente che effettivamente sembra che non sappia scrivere. Lo stile in qualche modo funziona, è consapevole di ciò che ricopre, lo fa quasi con umiltà. Non è quel Ian McEwan scioccante di Espiazione, ma non tutti veniamo al mondo con una dote del genere: che dire, in questo caso l'autrice ha saputo vestire bene i suoi mezzi. In generale non ha una potenza travolgente ma si fa leggere e apprezzare - tiepidamente da parte mia, ma è sempre qualcosa. (Perché ho questo tono quasi caritatevole? Sarà che non frequento quasi mai questo tipo di autori e quindi sono ancora immune da una certa intransigente esperienza?) Ciò che a mio parere non può ricevere degli apprezzamenti in toto è la storia d'amore, non esce dall'ordinario e per questo non mi ha coinvolto - io che già non ho il cuore tenero quindi non mi metto a fare il tifo con la lacrimuccia ogni due per tre. Il sentimento che attizza il cuore dei nostri protagonisti si fa sentire attraverso le loro emozioni e reazioni, ma non sembra comunque uscire davvero dalla carta e vivere nel lettore, è quasi come uno di quegli areoplanini di carta che fai volare ma dopo due secondi che non li tieni su cadono per terra e bom, il gioco è finito. La stessa Young ci parla di un'amore forte che supera le avversità della guerra ma ci impone le sue condizioni di esistenza quasi dal nulla, non ci racconta come questo è sbocciato nel tempo, se non con un capitolo un po' buttato lì sull'adolescenza di Riley in generale. E non è l'unica cosa da cui ci esclude: se per il protagonista della vicenda, Riley, non ci si può lamentare su come non abbia una sua caratterizzazione, tutti i personaggi attorno però periscono di questa luce messa su di lui come faro della storia. Le tre donne - svendute dalla Garzanti - ad esempio hanno una caratterizzazione quasi unidimensionale, è stato assegnato loro un ruolo che rispettano durante la storia, ma anche loro - come la storia d'amore narrata - non escono mai dalla carta, rappresentano quasi delle pedine da muovere durante la storia per far sì che l'intreccio funzioni. Nadine esiste solo in funzione di Riley e del loro amore, la Young tenta di darle una sorta di quadro attorno con una carriera avviata come infermiera, ma sceglie di non raccontarci che cosa effettivamente accada mentre il suo adorato è via. Dobbiamo quasi accettare che lei sarà sempre quella "che ama Riley", niente di più, se non un accenno qua e là di speranzoso tratteggiamento del personaggio.Molto interessante l'aspetto dei primi passi della chirurgia estetica sui soldati feriti, si vede che la Young si è informata dettagliatamente al riguardo e ha saputo comunicare anche noi il giusto sfondo, senza risultare pedante o eccessivamente "didattica". In generale apprezzo molto l'assennata documentazione dell'autrice, che dimostra di non aver quindi voluto scrivere un libro solo per vendere un po' di copie ai lettori più facili. Apprezzo in generale che comunque questo sia un libro che non intende fare il fanfarone, anzi, intende affrontare la questione trattata con serietà e cerca di renderla il più possibile. Quanto mi sento la maestrina buona in questo momento, ma chi se ne frega. Questo è quello che si muove nel mio nobile animo. (Puah.)

  • Lydia Laceby
    2018-11-08 01:32

    Originally Reviewed at Novel EscapesI found My Dear I Wanted to Tell You equal parts fascinating and horrifying. Although heavy with romance and war, this novel portrayed none of the romance of war. It took me a while to sink into the plot and the characters, but once I did they appeared in my thoughts when I put the novel down and although I enjoyed this novel and thought about it when I wasn’t reading it, I felt it could have been much more captivating.I didn’t anticipate this war story to be so heavy on the romance, and at times I wasn’t too sure of Riley and Nadine’s love, feeling it was never fully developed before he heads off to war. This storyline however was diluted juxtaposed against the unravelling of Julia and Peter’s relationship, and Rose’s lack of marital options, without which I suspect this novel wouldn’t have worked. This novel further opened my eyes to how an entire generation was altered and affected by the war, especially how women’s roles shifted during the void the men left. This was especially evident with the dotting housewife, Julia, struggling with the feeling that she had no purpose with her husband away and striving to be the perfect housewife for his return. I loved how Rose, who was never expected to marry and felt ineffective because of it, suddenly felt she had a place in the world. I was left wondering throughout how all the characters were going to piece their stunted lives back together, whether they even could or wanted to. I thought the ending was well written, but will refrain from explaining why as not to ruin anything, I did find the last scenes interesting and even left me wanting a bit more, although I don’t know if it would have even been appropriate to go beyond the point the author did. The plastic surgery plot line that developed was fascinating. The unveiling of the developing surgery was written so eloquently that it never seemed too heavy on medical jargon and I understood it completely. I was also intrigued with the psychology that young Riley uses to keep himself afloat and to see how different his reaction to the war is to Peter’s. The prose took some getting used to and not having read any of Young’s previous works, I’m not sure if it’s her style, but the lengthy descriptive sentences with excessive comma’s aggravated me at times, but that could have been just me. I like description intertwined in the story, not thrown so blatantly at me. This probably went hand in hand with the slower start I found to this novel. If you’re looking for a romantic war time novel with some interesting medical history, check out My Dear I Wanted to Tell You.

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    2018-11-04 17:45

    3.5. This book takes place during World War I, a time period that I have not read very much historical fiction about. I found myself wondering why World War II seems to be such a more popular time period as far as historical fiction goes. Does anyone have any idea why this is? This book focuses on the stories of two couples and those surrounding them. You never really get to find out about what attracts both couples to each other, which I think would have been nice to know especially considering what happens to both couples throughout the book (I don't want to give anything away). Since in the book we only really get to see what the couples are like once they've fallen in love, I felt like I didn't really get to connect with them. Not having that background also made it difficult to see what the motive was for what the characters do throughout the book. I think there could have been more to help the reader engage a little bit more with all of the major characters.Interestingly enough, the one character that I really connected with was Rose, the nurse who takes care of Riley after he has sustained a bunch of really bad injuries from the war. I felt like you really got a good sense of who she was and her thoughts and her feelings, which made it much easier to connect with her. Not being able to connect with any of the main characters I think definitely hurt the book.Another aspect of the book that I really liked is the information about some of the surgeries that were performed during this time. It was sort of amazing what the hospital was able to do in order to try to fix Riley's jaw (they give him sort of a prosthesis)after it's blown off during the war. I guess I didn't realize how far advance surgery was way back then. That part of the book was definitely fascinating to me.Bottom line: A decent read with interesting details!

  • Elaine
    2018-11-05 23:58

    What, another World War 1 book? Is there something about the fact that no one is left alive to tell -- or criticize the veracity of -- the tale that has led to a recent flourishing (to the already robust genre) of trench literature, usually somehow connected to a story of the folks at home, maybe poets, maybe artsy? Anyway, yes, another one, and another good one. A real energy and lyricism to Young's writing, the "men" come to life, especially her hero, Riley, caught between two worlds, but the little sketched portraits of the troops and other minor characters are memorable as well. The central love story is vivid, felt, sexy and real too, and the prose moves.Why not a 5? Well, she has some issues writing women. Julia, the 2nd female lead, is problematic, her learned helplessness as the beauteous object of desire seems more schematic idea than real -- so too Rose's asexuality (is she really THAT plain? or a repressed lesbian? the diametric pairing with Julia seems false to both women). And there are two witchy witchy mothers that would seem monstrously misogynist if written by a man -- Young's gentle touch fails her there. Still though, any novel that can still make you feel the pain and horror of hte trenches (or rather, imagine you can), and the visceral exhaustion and suffering of the nurses who also served (one passage where Young describes nursing conditions of "8 days on the trot underwear", fleas, and cold water washing really hit home), while also being genuinely entertaining, is worth reading. The passionate recounting of early plastic surgery -- the vanities AND the essential reconstructive work -- are also fascinating -- and make 1917 seem not so very far away.

  • Mary Lou
    2018-11-13 17:50

    My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louise Young poignantly portrays the horror of war, insightfully revealing the effects on men and women, soldiers and medical teams, those at the front and those at home. She uses three young women and two young men to carry much of the story and bases some of what she writes on real people and actual medical practices and advancements, particular in plastic surgery. When the war is over, all are wounded and needy. The ability to bear the unbearable gives them the strength to keep on. (Spoiler alert. Summary follows quotes.)Young’s prose is skillful and memorable:“… one of the many injustices of the war—a small one, in the big scheme, but still—was how the sweet-natured pretty-faced daughters of England were required to toughen up. A girl like Julia wasn’t made for it. Why should she have to” (87)? “It seemed to Purefoy that if your legs are shot to pieces no one expects you to keep going, but if your nerve, the machinery of your self-control is shot to pieces, they do. It’s not your will, your desire, your willingness to fight on—it’s a separate part of you, but it’s one they don’t understand yet, because they never yet put this much on a soldier. Ainsworth had talked about that—how they had never before given heavy industry to war” (124).“She knew now exactly what Riley had been talking about when he had said he didn’t exist. She knew now the hollow manic energy induced by living at crisis pitch all the time. It left you—well , it never left you: it rendered you brutalized, incapable, unthinking, unfeeling, scar tissue all over. No feeling at all. Wild. Everything was terribly remote and she was utterly impenetrable” (234). “Courage for the big troubles in life, patience for the small. And when you have laboriously finished your day’s efforts, go to sleep in peace. (Be of good cheer. God is awake.)” (264).“For the next few days he watched the other patients. Patience. He was looking for good cheer among them. How did they bear it? How could they bear it? This was not a rhetorical question. He wanted to know how the others bore it, what they actually did to bear it, because he could not bear it. And he could not suddenly start to bear it just because it was over. No one ever wins a war, and wars are never over:” (265).Working class Riley Purefoy and posh, aristocratic Nadine Waveney meet as children and become friends when Riley’s brains, talent and personality lead him to work in the household of a rich artist. When WWI begins, he enlists in the Army, survives his first experiences, and begins trying to cope with war, striving to come to terms with the disparity between the atrocities he does and sees in battle and his own moral code. He begins to have trouble communicating with Nadine, afraid to tell her real things, but he builds strong loyalties and friendship with comrades, especially his Captain, Peter Locke. Nadine recognizes that Riley isn’t sharing with her, and in an effort to make a difference and understand him, she becomes a nurse. They begin to exchange real letters and even meet, finally consummating their relationship. When his jaw is blown off, though, he sends her a letter telling her he loves another to spare her the pain of living with him and his disfigurement, and he enlists his own nurse’s help in convincing Nadine to go away. Riley’s nurse is Locke’s cousin, a plain woman unlikely ever to marry as opposed to his wife Julia, a lady “bred and trained to be a beautiful wife and nothing else” (65). Peter Locke creates part of his problem when he goes home on leave. He can’t bear to touch Julia despite her flirtatious attempts to be intimate because he’s done such monstrous things. Desire overcomes him in the night, but he practically rapes her and then, ashamed to his core, leaves without comment. She becomes pregnant, bears him a son, and, flounders, unable to mother the boy—her own mother takes him away—or to do anything useful to help Locke who spirals down, becoming an alcoholic.All does end well, when the armistice is announced, in a Christmas reunion at Locke Hill, where Purefoy brings the drunken Locke, and Nadine accepts hospitality from Rose. Julia has burned her face with acids, attempting to hide signs of aging, but seems to feels more relief than anything when her son whom she’s fetched to see his father reacts to her bandages by attempting to comfort her, and she understands that “Peter needs me sane more than he needs me beautiful…” (324). After a brief exchange in which Purefoy and Nadine speak of horrors—“I killed.” “I let them die.”—she says, I think we should get married now, before anyone has a chance to think about it. Then whatever else, we’ll be safe together” (320) and Purefoy concurs, “It was the only thing they were sure of” 320).

  • ✝✝ Ⓓaisy ❣ ✝✝
    2018-10-29 17:46

    THIS IS ONE OF MY FAV WAR LOVE STORY BOOK! I wrecked my heart, cried so much, laughed, fell in love!I was deeply moved by the relationship between Riley Purefoy and Nadine....So sweet!!!!! But falling in love during in a war zone was never easy. Dayum, and their social class mattered so much too! Such a pain they put these young lovers through!Riley and Nadine fell in love, Riley went to war, she become a nurse..... bam a telegram arrives, their life totally changes... terrible lie that made both miserable and hopelessly in love. They sacrificed, suffered and were in pain. Their love journey was not serene, but it was beautifully painful. But they found each other. So so so broke my heart!!!!"Nadine, We're here, we're alive, we love each other.Let's be happy" "He came straight to her.... His case fell to the floor as he snaked his arm round her waist and there was a tiny perfect pause before he kissed and kissed and kissed her" *my heart only can stand some much*"Now I know and I am part of it all and part of myself and him" I just adore this book! :) I will read over and over again. Salute for all our soldiers serving in war zone. Prayers for safety there!My Riley My Nadine

  • Tara Chevrestt
    2018-10-19 21:56

    I didn't like this much mainly because I really didn't like a single character except Rose and she's really not a "main player."The main players are:Riley: He has a bit of a same sex encounter and decides to run off to war to prove he's a real man, not a "nancy." I was terribly put off by this bit.. wasn't expecting it. His parts also contain the "f" word a lot. This did not bother me, but I know it will bother other readers. So make a note of that if you are offended by profanity.Riley loves, Nadine, another main player. This love affair brings up the topic of social class. I liked how this novel shows how WWI brought together the classes and made relationships between the classes acceptable whereas they were frowned upon before the war.Most of their love affair is through letters as Riley heads to war not too far into the novel. I didn't like their letters.. mundane, irrelevant, and too long.Another main player is Peter. Ugh. Peter handles the war by drowning himself in booze and prostitutes.His wife is equally repulsive, though her character raises another intriguing issue: Is being a housewife enough? Can a woman live without her man? She has issues. When her baby is born, she allows her mother to take it away. When her husband comes home on leave and does not wish to have relations with her, she goes bizerk and obsesses that she is not pretty and this and that. She's a very weak woman who needs male attention to feel useful.There was one thing I liked though. I liked the facial reconstruction stuff. I didn't really get into the novel until the facial reconstruction came into it. Gruesome but absolutely fascinating. I also appreciate the parts of the story that dealt with people's reactions to facial injuries. Can you still love your man when his face is a mess? Will you be disgusted? It's interesting to see how different people react and how others must realize a monster on the outside does not necessarily mean a monster inside.. However, overall, I didn't love the story or the characters enough to rate it any higher. One point in its favor: The writing style slightly resembles Catherine Cookson's.

  • Christy
    2018-11-06 20:50

    When I first started reading this book I thought I had made a poor choice. But once we got to the turning point there was no going back. I couldn't put it down. MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU is one of the most engaging books I have read in quite some time. The characters were interesting, sympathetic and flawed. The storyline hopped between London and France during WWI, a period in history that I have never taken much time to learn about. There is something in this book for just about everyone and I believe it will appeal to a huge audience. It is at heart, a love story, but there are so many other aspects to this book. It touches on women's impact during wartime, romance, tragedy, the class system, families, art and early reconstructive surgery methods. Of all these areas I found the reconstructive surgery passages the most interesting and informative. As I stated before, it takes a while to get interested in this story. The first half of the book sets up the entire premise for the second half. I have to disagree with the reviewer who said she did not feel anything for any of the characters. I could completely empathize with Riley Purefoy, the protagonist, and I understand why he made the choices he did. At times this book was heart-wrenching and I felt absolutely miserable for what Riley had to endure. I will leave it at that so as not to give any spoilers. Overall, I would highly recommend MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU. It was a quick read and one that I will not soon forget. I also feel a bit better informed in regards to WWI and Britain's impact. Read this book if you are remotely interested in any of the aformentioned themes. And most importantly...stick with it. The payoff is vast.

  • Penny
    2018-11-04 21:49

    This is an account of 5 people during world war 1. We meet Riley and Nadine prior to the war. He is working class and becomes a type of protegee for Nadine's family - until she has 'inappropriate' feelings for him. Nadine is a wealthy girl whose family disapprove. Meanwhile we meet Peter and Julia Locke who are upper class and Peter ends up in the trenches as Riley's commanding officer. Julia meanwhile descends into total breakdown as her life becomes meaningless and banal. Peter's cousin, Rose, makes herself useful as a nurse because no one was ever going to marry her anyway - or so she believes.I listened to the audio version of this - read by Dan Stevens, alias Matthew Crawley. He does an excellent job of this story. The novel is a war romance but it is a deceptive title. I tried it because it was recommended but the title made it sound like very slushy romance - it's not at all.Louisa Young does a wonderful job of making the characters immediately real and the reader is very quickly engaged in the story. At times the writing is exquisite with whole segments being placed together like pieces from a quilt - each whole and perfect but different. Young is particularly good at getting a person's thoughts with all their conflicts and prejudices, hopes and desparation spun out across the page. This leads you through the reasons the character chooses a certain path causing empathy with each person although there are wince inducing moments.Loved it!

  • Eleven
    2018-10-30 18:57

    Mi sento in dovere di scrivere una recensione per questo libro ancora ingiustamente quasi sconosciuto. Nonostante il boom editoriale in Europa, noto che in Italia non sono in molti ad averlo sentito nominare. Quanto a me, ringrazio il caso di avermici fatto posare gli occhi in libreria.Ha la delicatezza di un romanzo romantico (in senso metastorico), la forza di un romanzo di denuncia, la disperazione delle storie che raccontano la verità, la voglia di vivere che infonde chi ha vissuto la morte. La storia sconvolgente di Riley Purefoy e Nadine Waveney muove il lettore attraverso vicessitudini e sofferenze altrui con il pungolo fisso nella mente del ricongiungimento, della giustizia, perché in un mondo giusto questo romanzo non si sarebbe nemmeno dovuto scrivere.Trovo discutibile la scelta delle parole in copertina, la definizione di questo libro come un libro che parla di tre donne. Per me i protagonisti assoluti sono Riley e Nadine. Le storie intrecciate di Rose e di Julia e Peter sono indispensabili a rendere pieno un romanzo altrimenti scialbo e da leggere in spiaggia senza troppo impegno. Così com'è fatto, invece, merita anzi un po' di attenzione. Ed il cuore aperto a emozioni che vengono, ormai, dal secolo scorso. Ne consiglio la lettura a tutti. Bello.

  • Serena
    2018-11-03 18:49

    My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young is a WWI novel and love story that illustrates the toll that war takes on couples from mere recruits to the officers that give them orders. Young’s novel examines social and monetary class distinctions, even providing slight nuances to the “poshies” in how they treat the working class. Truly, this is a love story — the story of Riley Purefoy and Nadine Waveney, childhood sweethearts separated by more than the war.The narration sets it up so that readers get to know Nadine and Riley in their early years and the timid beginnings of their love, which helps not only anchor the emotional arc of the story but the connection readers feel to them both. Nadine is from an upper class family with artistic roots — her father is a famous conductor — and Riley is from a working class family. Both end up under the tutelage of Sir Arthur, a famous artist, who sees potential in Riley and Nadine. Eventually, they are separated by her parents who refuse to send her to Sir Arthur’s for lessons if Riley is still working there, which ultimately pushes Riley to see his fortunes through a different lens and join the military.Read the full review:

  • Jo Ann
    2018-11-11 00:38

    I have read very little about The Great War, so I cannot make good comparisons in literature about this era. However, this was an eye-opener to me, about the war itself, societal changes during the war, ethics and mores, and an introduction to Major Harold Gillies, who made outstanding progress in maxillo-facial and plastic surgery during World War I, and later, mostly at Queen's Hospital in Sidcup, England. The story is actually about Riley and Nadine, who meet while they're pre-teens and later fall in love despite their class differences: Riley's working-class, Nadine's upper class...and their parents won't let them forget it. In addition, there's Riley's commanding officer, Peter Locke, and his wife, Julia, and Peter's cousin, Rose. The novel is mainly about the 2 men and their wartime experiences, and the 3 women left behind...all 5 deal with the horrors of war in their own ways, with sometimes devastating results, sometimes poignant and powerful love.I won't soon forget these characters or this book. Amazing.

  • Amy
    2018-10-31 17:47

    I received this book after winning a giveaway here on Goodreads. The book got off to a slow start. It took me around 5 days just to get to the middle of it, whereas I'm usually finishing a book by that time. I found the chapters depiciting Riley's time on the battlefield to be particularly difficult to get through. Granted, this is probably my own weakness, but when too many names are thrown at me at once, I tend to block them all out. Therefore, some of the (very) minor characters were no more than a blur to me, and when later references were made, I had no clue who they were. That said, somewhere around the middle of the book, a spark was lit. I ripped through the last 200 pages or so at lightning speed, unable to wait and discover what would happen next. For me, that's the epitome of a good story. The book was beautifully written, and I've come to the conclusion that not every book is meant to be read quickly. Instead, others are best enjoyed when savored.

  • Jo
    2018-11-13 17:36

    Louisa Young doesn't spare us the horrific details of life on the Western Front. How can the handsome, talented artist Riley Purefoy go back to the life he had before war broke out, especially now he is so badly injured? How can he expect the beautiful and equally talented, Nadine to love him now? The novel not only focuses on what life was like for the soldiers fighting in France, but what it was like for the women left behind. I didn't want the book to end. The characters were so life-like, so real that I'm still thinking about them days later. Louisa Young explores aspects of the war that I never even knew about before, even though I have researched this period well. This novel will go down as one of my all-time favourite reads.

  • Anne Fortier
    2018-10-30 18:33

    A truly excellent, shocking, and very rewarding read.

  • ALPHAreader
    2018-10-23 17:43

    The story begins in 1907, with a snowball to the head and an icy dip in a Kensington Gardens lake. Thus begins the friendship between working-class boy, Riley Purefoy, and the Waveney family of kind intellectual bohemians who take him in as one of their own. Riley’s friendship with Nadine Waveney grows and prospers over the years, until they both come to a realization of love. But when Nadine’s mother objects to the unsuitable courtship Riley turns his mind to the war effort and naively signs up to fight ‘for the duration of the war’. While fighting on the frontlines, Riley experiences the gruelling horrors of war. He is dehumanized and built up again by the barrage of gun fire.While fighting, Riley befriends a young and sensitive commanding officer, Peter Locke. While Riley thinks of Nadine, Peter pines for his wife, Julia, back home. . . Meanwhile, Julia and her cousin Rose are dealing with the war effort the way only women can. Julia is hell-bent on Peter coming home to a perfect little wife. Rose is working under the revolutionary doctor, Major Gillies, and helping him to patch-up wounded soldiers with horrendous facial scarring. Miles away and Nadine is also working as a nurse, helping wounded soldiers and imaging Riley’s face in all of them. . . Five lives intertwine against the backdrop of a war to end all wars . . . and five very different battles are fought in the aftermath of armistice. ‘My Dear I Wanted to Tell You’ is the new novel from Louisa Young.A war-time novel is bound to leave a reader with heavy heart and morose mind . . . it’s the ambiance of war that demands such intense feelings and dark observations. But Louisa Young’s novel is marked by brilliance for what it leaves behind. Days after I read the last page I was still thinking on this novel, I found my mind drifting back to the characters and still turning their stories over in my head. A war-time novel is meant to move you, but it’s the mark of a truly great novel that stays with you long after you’ve read the last line. ‘My Dear I Wanted to Tell You’ takes its title from a letter writing format designed to encourage young soldiers to express their feelings on the page and vent their thoughts. As the novel progresses, we read the letter exchanges between characters and the foreboding they hold for when the war is done and dusted. Julia and Peter write stunted words, unsure in their tender marriage, and unknowing of each other. While Peter struggles with his fractured soul under cannon fire, Julia is back home practicing to be the perfect home-maker upon his return. Their worlds are far apart and the letters mark the distance.Meanwhile, Nadine and Riley write candid outpourings of love and missing. Riley is honest and relentless in his chaotic letters home. Nadine yearns on the page, but writes unbridled letters of honesty and humour; “. . . Please dearest Riley let me know when I can come to you. I am going mad here, dropping things, not sleeping, not eating. Mad! Jean says she has never seen a girl so lovesick. It’s not just my mind – my body, my heart, my dreams, my digestive system! All shouting Riley, Riley, he’s in trouble, go to him . . . I can’t shut them up. My poor colleagues here are sick of the sight of me, and of the sound of your name. Apparently I am sleeptalking now! Shouting your name in the night, Jean says. And, she says, rolling over and hugging her!! Which I deny, because I will never ever roll over and hug anyone in the night but you, my darling – ”The story progresses to glimpse the aftermath of war as it impacts these five criss-crossing lives. Young visits the pain of survivor’s guilt, and the silences that follow the men home and choke the households they have longed for. But throughout the novel there is Riley and Nadine, and their enduring love . . . the light in a novel of stark misery and wartime suffering. And it’s all the brighter for its counterpoint. ‘My Dear I Wanted to Tell You’ is sublime. A novel of war that will leave you wrecked and wanting more. You’ll think on these characters for days after the last page. . .

  • Nancy
    2018-11-09 23:54

    The setting of this book is two locations in England and then mostly the worst battles of WWI. The story begins with Nadine and her brother meeting the young Riley, the son of a working class couple contrasting with Nadine's higher class. Riley is adaptable and is taken in by a high class, artist, Sir Alfred, which provides the young couple access to one another throughout their late childhood. Romance begins to bloom when Riley makes a rash decision and enlists in the European conflict, regretting it mightily.In a coastal village near Dover, beautiful Julia laments her loneliness as her husband, Peter, who would not have been conscripted, has already left for war. Feeling useless, as she has been bred since birth to be nothing more than a beautiful wife, she obsesses with her appearance until Peter returns.In Julia's home lives the plain looking Rose, Peter's cousin. Pitiable before the war, being unmarriageable, Rose finds herself useful and strong as she works in a nearby hospital with soldiers who are grotesquely mangled. To shock Julia, Rose allows a scene to play out where she explains, in detail, how Dr. Gillies, a brilliant surgeon, reconstructs faces that have been shot away, burned off, or otherwise mangled. Poor Julia listens in fascination and horror. Although many books are written on WWII, less on WWI, the book gives a snapshot of different aspects on this war. Technological advances in war machines, made this war particularly bloody and costly in lives of the soldiers since advances in protection had not kept up with destruction. Like WWII, the soldiers spent a lot of time in trenches. Unlike WWII, the common fighting for the Allies involved hand to hand combat. The deadliest days of the Battle of Somme are detailed with the effects of both Riley and Locke.Meanwhile, in England, Nadine bucks tradition and fights her mother on becoming more proper. Knowing her love is in battle, she chooses to become a glorified nurses assistant at a hospital where she sees the soldiers after the initial patch-up. She is a beautiful soul who refuses to play by the pretty rules of pretending war is not happening. Riley's and Nadine's love and commitment develop beautifully and honestly. In contrast, Julia and Peter grow further and further from one another. The war affects all of the characters differently. Rose becomes more and more useful and connects with humanity better even through horrible disfiguring injuries in her hospital. One character tries to forget through brothels and alcohol. Another withdraws emotionally and wallows in self-pity after a horrible injury. Another character tries to reconnect by getting as close to death and gore and possible. A few characters try to maintain normalcy and social expectations from pre-war. It is the dawn of a new age and all are ill-prepared to return to "normal" after the war.The writing style was difficult for me. I is often disjointed and two characters might respond to one another in one paragraph. Point of view changes as quickly as from one sentence to the other which threw me off at times. Additionally, colloquialisms for British English at this time period are employed and confused me. The book is, at times, difficult to read due to the strong correlation drawn between sex and war. Yet it is a fascinating tertiary affect of war. Be assured that the story does not wander into the occupied and/or conquered lands to rape and pillage. Intimacy becomes a problem, however. The language is strong and crass.Regardless, I loved the story, once I muddled through and figured out the writing style. The book is a definite worthwhile read and the romantic in me was satisfied. It's no happily-ever-after but ultimately the way to deal successfully with the aftermath was a deep commitment to hope and love.

  • Elizabeth Moffat
    2018-11-03 17:47

    I’ve actually read this book once before pre-blog days, as it was part of the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list in 2012, and if there’s ever a case for re-reading a book I state it here absolutely and positively. Not that I didn’t enjoy reading it first time around, but I think it got lost somewhere among the awesome books that were on the list that season: Me Before You – Jojo Moyes, The Help – Kathryn Stockett, Before I Go To Sleep – S.J. Watson, The Story of Beautiful Girl – Rachel Simon. You get the picture. Anyway, this is the story of Riley and Nadine, who spend most of their childhood together, despite differing backgrounds – him being poor, her family comfortably rich. Romance blossoms, but Riley is made aware from Nadine’s family that under no circumstances should he consider dallying with her, he’s just not in her class in their opinion. So Riley decides to sign up for the war, with an air of nonchalance, but also for proving himself worthy and acceptable for Nadine. They write to each other while he is at the Front, cold and stilted letters from him at first as he tries to protect both of them from the horrors of the war. However, Nadine has joined up as a volunteer nurse to help with the injured soldiers at the hospital and has no qualms having “seen it all before.” Disaster strikes (as it often does!) in the form of a terrible injury which may threaten their relationship for good.I was almost dumbstruck by how I enjoyed this book more the second time round as previously mentioned, and it was so terribly sad that I actually had to read it in fits and spurts. I think it obviously makes a story more poignant and emotional when it is based on realism, but the real strength lies in the writing of the author, and her ability to tug at our heart strings, leaving us no choice but to have to put the book down for a while to ponder and collect ourselves. There is also a second story weaving through the narrative, that of Riley’s Commanding Officer, Peter, his wife Julia, and Peter’s cousin Rose who also works in a hospital with the injured and dying. This story related the nature of mental injury in contrast to physical disabilities, the former rarely talked about as a hazard of wartime and has only fairly recently come to light with the nature of so many PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) casualties in war veterans. I thought that it was very important that this was highlighted in contrast with the physical traumas and think the author made an excellent job of it. Finally, I admire the way the author has told the stories of the people who remain behind and have to learn to cope with things, in particular, Julia, who is not counted on much apart from having a pretty face, and goes through quite a traumatic ordeal when the normality of her life and marriage is disrupted.A beautiful and emotional read that will stay with me for a while so that in future, I will definitely keep an open mind about re-reading a book I found just “good,” this book is a little gem which should not be under-appreciated.Please see my full review at

  • Suz
    2018-10-25 18:38

    My dear I wanted to tell you is a 2011 novel by Lousia Young about young up-and-coming officer Riley Purefoy, the girl he loves, his CO, the girl he loves, and his cousin, whom nobody loves.Having been spoiled by Good-bye To All That and All Quiet on the Western Front so far, I was a bit suspicious of this book when I first started reading it. I also picked it up for a third of the cover price at a remaindered books stand, which for a 2011 novel didn’t strike me as a good sign. However, this book turned out to be a decent read. Did a couple of interesting things, was appropriately gruesome, interesting characters, and some facinating detail about an aspect of the war which I had not previously considered.Captain Purefoy and Major Peter Locke are both interesting, flawed characters, and the different paths they take to cope with the trenches are fascinating. The three women mostly function as lenses into women’s lives at the time, and Young can’t resist a bit of authorial-standpoint posturing about feminism, the role of women and social change. Surprisingly low body count for this type of book, but given the givens, I think people would still find it appropriately emotionally exhausting.The plot was interesting, and did a couple of things I really didn’t expect with the main characterl. I found the narrative style a bit hard to follow; several times I had to go back and reread to try and figure out what had happened. The internal monologues got a bit tedious after a while - long blocks of italicised text as Captain Purefoy and ors debate internally this or that traumatic war-related issue they’re having. Somewhere in the middle I lost interest in the romance plot(s), and the ending was quite abrupt and a little underwhelming.The story frequently focuses on the emotional toll of the war, in the trenches, in the hospitals, in the homes of England. I got a little bit bored of that after a while - the narration periodically crosses over into melodrama which made me skim, get confused and double back several times.The writing style and subject matter have some pretensions to the literary, while at other times it behaves more like a genre historical. Would probably have benefited from deciding what it was - literary (less plot, more navel-gazing) or genre (more plot, less navel-gazing) and sticking with it.Ultimately, this book got me through two plane rides and I was totally absorbed in it from beginning to end. A good book, which was only let down by a few cliches and an ending which was satisfying, but not much more than that.

  • Sabina
    2018-11-12 18:55

    The book tells the story of 4 very different people whose lives are being torn apart by the war. We meet Riley in 1907 as a bright young boy from a working class family who, after a mishap at the park, is being mentored by the parents of Nadine, wo is the same age as Riley. However, as he grows up Riley finds that his improved education and manners don't equal social acceptance when Nadine's parents deem his attachment to their daughter unsuitable. By now it's 1914 and in a spontaneous romantic gesture of disappointment and disillusionment Riley joins the army and is soon on his way to France. His CO is Peter Locke, an officer who signed up out of patriotic duty and leaves behind a beautiful, loving and very naive wife, Julia. None of them has any idea what they are in for.It took me a moment to get used to Young's rather broad brushstrokes, but she is actually very good at delivering a clear picture of the conditions, the surroundings, the setting. The occasional stream of conciousness narrative gets you right into the protagonists' heads and the reader gets a very immediate impression of their thoughts and feelings, not all of them rational. It is strange then that the actual relationships between the characters seem so underdeveloped at times; for example we never really hear when or why Nadine and Riley fell in love, we are just told that this is so. This was a real drawback for me and I'd call it more 3.5 stars than 4 because of it.The real strength of the book is the part about Sidcup and Harold Gillies, which is clearly where the author's interst and inspiration for the story lies. I've never heard of Major Gillies or the reconstructive surgery methods he developed to help disfigured returned soldiers and was astonished to read about the operations, or should I say miracles, he performed. It is this aspect that made it a very worthwhile read for me, one I hadn't come across in other books on the period.