My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young is a novel of war and it’s effects on those fighting it and those behind them like their wives, girlfriends, and children. While some of the subject matter can be disturbing the author’s writing is beautiful. She so vividly describes what a soldier is seeing and feeling that at times it’s hard to read and yet you can’t tear your eyes away from the horror of it all. Above everything else though it is a novel of everlasting love even in the face of the seemingly impossible.
In this novel we see the face of war that so many of us shy away from as it’s so far removed from us yet we know on another level what these soldiers are going through for us. As a young boy Riley certainly never thought he would be a soldier in WWI. Yet coming from the wrong side of the tracks no matter how hard he tries not to be will not get him the girl he loves who comes from a ‘posh’ family. While Nadine’s family did take to Riley as a young boy they don’t so much as he grows up and catches Nadine’s eye. After an incident that leaves Riley disgusted with himself he enlists. Once in the trenches though he can’t imagine why he did. He is horrified by what he sees, smells, and hears. The war is raging all around him and there is no escape.
Nadine comes from money and has never lived a life of not having what she wants and yet that isn’t who she really is. She wants more than anything to be an artist and be with Riley. Her mother though has other plans for her which are to be a wife to a proper gentleman and have a family. It isn’t what she wants though and as the war is raging she wants to do something on her part to help however she can so she becomes a nurse to the men injured in the war. And although her mother knows that Nadine loves Riley she still tries her hardest to convince her that he isn’t the man for her and that she’d be better off taking the path her mother wants her to.
Then we have Peter and Julia. Peter is Riley’s CO in the war and the two do develop a friendship. Before the war Peter adored his beautiful wife but as the war wore on and Peter saw the devastating effects of it he became a different man. At home, on leave, he couldn’t get the thought of losing his men out of his mind and essentially took it out on his wife who couldn’t believe this man could possibly be her Peter. For Julia, Peter was everything and she had always devoted herself to making him happy. Now though she begins to feel that maybe she isn’t beautiful enough anymore and for Julia that is a huge problem. Julia has always been very beautiful and she has been bred to be that way and to be a wife. She knows nothing else and as she looks around herself she sees the roles of women changing because of the war and yet for her she knows that nothing can be different.
I enjoyed My Dear I Wanted to Tell You. I have always liked to read novels having to do with the war and that was my reason for wanting to read this one. I found it very real, both in the descriptions of the war to the relationships of the people both in and out of the battlefield. As I said earlier it is very descriptive so if you’re not the type to be able to read that type of thing then this might not be the book for you. I also enjoyed the romance between Riley and Nadine especially as it goes to show that two people from opposite ends of the class system can have an everlasting love. I love how, though the circumstances were trying, they were still able to keep their love alive. This novel also deals quite a lot with the effects of war on a soldier. How they come home and may seem so normal on the outside while the inside is still raging. Many wounds heal without a trace left behind but the mental images and all that a soldier lives through doesn’t fade away with time and I like that this novel brings that to the forefront. If you enjoy novels of war and wartime romance then this is one to add to your list.
I read My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. Be sure to pop by the other tour stops to see what others thought of the book. Louisa Young can be found on her website and her novel can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.
Source: Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher. No compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.