I finished it late last night, so , hot off the press, here is my review.
If you read it I would love to know what you think of it too!
My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young – review
This book promises much: “This is the most powerful book you will read all year. You will want to tell everyone what happens in it. Please don’t.” So, it was with great anticipation that I began to read.
The first half tells how the central characters, Riley and Nadine meet. However, the description of life in pre war London and the differences in class don’t draw the reader in. The characters were likeable at best and bland at worst.
As the war takes hold, the contrast between the life for the soldiers in the trenches in France and their waiting families in England is stark, but you are left wondering where it is all going.
However, the pace and intensity of the story increase towards the middle when it reaches a fast boil; from then the story becomes utterly captivating.
Riley is wounded and sent to the Queen’s hospital in Sidcup to recover. Here he is treated by the (non-fictional) surgeon , Major Harold Gillies. The surgery is absolutely fascinating (graphic and shocking at times). The contrast between the personal battles fought by the characters and the war is powerfully and sensitively written. The title comes from the standard issue postcard wounded soldiers sent to their families; the “slight injury” indicated by Riley becomes the first of several lies told.
Much of the remaining story is told through the correspondence between characters in London and France, and it is these letters that make you desperate to know more.
Throughout the second half of the book I found myself reaching for the tissues; and as the book came to a close I was left wanting more- to know how their lives turned out, if they triumphed over their inner demons.
So, would I recommend it? Most definitely. A complex love story set against the horrors of the first world war, a story of personal battles and hopelessness. A story of friendship, loyalty and hope. I shall certainly look out for more books by this author.