Review: My Dear I Wanted to Tell You — Louisa Young

Read: 22
To Go: 78

Book List:
21. Why Men Lie — Linden MacIntyre
22. My Dear I Wanted to Tell You — Louisa Young

While Peter Locke and Riley Purefoy fight for their country, their survival, and their sanity in the trenches of Flanders, their loved ones do what they can at home.

Beautiful, obsessive Julia and gentle, eccentric Peter are married: each day Julia puts herself through demanding aesthetic rituals to prepare for her beloved husband’s return. Nadine and Riley, only eighteen when the war stars 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 what of Peter’s cousin, Rose? Well, what happened to traditionally brought-up women who lost their hopes of marriage when the young men of their generation marched off to war?

As battle and its aftermath make sacrifice and trauma part of everyday life, these characters’ lives are irrevocably intertwined and forever changed. My Dear I Wanted To Tell You is a heartrending testament to the effects of war on both body and soul — and to the power of enduring love.

Hi! I’m down here!

I don’t know what’s with me and historical fiction lately, but I just can’t get enough of it. And I have some plans this summer to read more of it as well; I’ve got my eye on books about Hitler (yucky topic, but perversely interesting), John F. Kennedy and anything in the Cold War period. My Dear I Wanted to Tell You pre-dates those times, but it definitely helped to satisfy my weird need for historical fiction.

So here’s the quick and dirty (because I have some errands to run today and I’m already behind) on My Dear I Wanted to Tell You.

The characters were fully-formed and beautifully written; my personal favourites were Julia (obsessive, vain, and unable to be anything but pretty), Riley (sweet, brave, selfless), and Nadine (determined, smart, a perfect example of women who stepped up to the plate in WWI and became heroines). The scenes were incredibly vivid, and Young had this really cool way of putting you right in the characters’ place. For example, when Riley — SPOILER ALERT — was injured and majorly disoriented, Young’s writing was deliberately confusing to make the reader feel exactly like Riley did. It was really neat.

Also: could I have my own Riley Purefoy? Pretty please?

Gorgeous, gorgeous book. Put it on your summer reading lists, because it’s fabulous.

Next book: Currently unsure. But I’ve got a lot to choose from, and all the time in the world, so I’m pretty excited.

– Kelsey

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