The month is almost over and I’m a little behind on reviews. 😉 Today you’ll get another review that fits the Great War Centenary topic. I read Louisa Young‘s My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You which was shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Novel Award.
Synopsis quoted from Harper Collins UK¹:
A letter, two lovers, a terrible lie. In war, truth is only the first casualty.
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?
Louisa Young’s historical novel My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You is set in early 20th century England and France. While Ms Young did thoroughly research the time the book is set in, I had problems envisioning the setting, especially the scenes that are set at the Western Front, even though I am familiar with what it looked like from pictures.
The novel’s main characters are Riley Purefoy, Nadine Waveney, Peter and Julia Locke as well as Rose Locke, but those who most stand out are Riley and Julia. Riley, whose life we witness from his boyhood onwards, goes through a lot of changes and there comes a time when he even turns into a quite unlikeable fellow. Nevertheless, his character always stays believable. Julia Locke is the perfect characterization of a wife without purpose. Staying at home, nobody thinks her capable of doing something useful, so she slowly begins to lose her mind.
My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You starts out slow-paced but picks up so much speed in the second half that I wasn’t able to put it down. The novel switches between England and France, home and the Western Front. All main characters get their share of attention and so the reader is able to see the war and its effects from different perspectives. My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You gives us a glimpse of human tragedy and hope during the Great War and to add a little special something, Louisa Young provides insight into the history of the first successful plastic surgeries.
If you are interested in more info on the plastic surgeries done by Sir Harold D. Gillies, you can read his book Plastic Surgery of the Face online here: (Warning: Contains images of facial gunshot wounds): https://openlibrary.org/books/OL7141634M/Plastic_surgery_of_the_face