Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young

4 Star

From the day in 1907 that eleven-year-old Riley Purefoy meets Nadine Waveney, he takes in the difference between their two families -- his, working class; hers, posh and artistic -- and vows to make himself worthy of the lovely Nadine’s affections.
Nadine’s mother has other ideas for her daughter. Though she tolerates Riley as a young boy, nearly a decade later she attempts to stop the budding romance between the two teenagers. Angry and humiliated, Riley enlists at the nearest recruiting station, and reports for training the very next day.
While Riley and his commanding officer, Peter Locke, fight for their country and their survival in the trenches of Flanders, their loved ones await their return. Peter’s wife, Julia, undertakes a daily ritual to prepare for her beloved husband’s homecoming. Peter’s cousin Rose, with all hope of marriage marching off to war, becomes a nurse at the nearby Queen’s Hospital.
Nadine and Riley’s bond is tested by a terrible injury, and even more so by the ambitious yet imperfect rehabilitation that follows.

Lydia - 4 Star

I 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. 


  1. I follow the Novel Escapes blog

    I also follow on Facebook

  2. Hi,
    I'm following on Twitter (@imjustmea) and I follow the blog.

    mariaelenaabraham at gmail dot com

  3. Follow on Facebook and Twitter (@helenkeiller).
    h dot keiller at btinternet dot com

  4. I follow on Facebook

  5. I follow the blog, on twitter (krystaldorkface) and on facebook (Krystal Lynn)!

    miss_kris_11 (AT) yahoo (DOT) com

  6. Ooh, awesome :) I'm following on Twitter.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)




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