Search This Blog

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
Louisa Young
Harpercollins, 2011

A story that intertwines the lives of two very different couples during World War I follows army soldier Riley as he fights for the love of Nadine, and Riley's commanding officer Peter Locke, who returns home from the war a bitter and scarred man.

This moving and romantic novel starts out slowly. Riley is from a lower class family. Because he has some artistic talent, he is taken in by Sir Alfred, his benefactor, and given art lessons. Nadine is from a higher class family and she also takes art lessons from Sir Alfred; the two become friends. When Riley is informed about the impossibility of the two becoming more than friends because of the class difference, he decides to enlist in the war. Nadine is heartbroken at his leaving without talking to her, so she becomes a nurse, despite her mother’s disapproval, in order to forget Riley.

Meanwhile, Peter is an officer and has left behind his wife Julia. Julia has no children and no idea what to do with herself all day so she keeps her cello perpetually tuned and the pillows always plumped on the sofa, just in case Peter comes home for a visit. Peter’s Cousin Rose works as a nurse in the hospital and tries to be supportive for Julia but realizes that Peter’s wife has no idea what the war is like for the men who are serving. And Peter? He just can’t deal with the perpetual death and misery of the war, so he avoids coming home at all.

The novel really comes together when Riley and Nadine start writing to each other and declare their love and devotion. The author juxtaposes their budding relationship, full of hopes and dreams and plans, to the deterioration of the Locke’s marriage as the war progresses on and on without an end in sight. Without giving away too many details and ruin the reader’s discovery of the interesting plot turns that develop, Peter becomes so disillusioned and depressed that he is unable to connect with Julia anymore, which creates a great divide between the two that seems impossible to bridge. Riley and Nadine have their own problems because of Riley’s injury, which also seem insurmountable. Thankfully, Rose becomes involved in both situations, and her steadfast commitment to the power of love helps each person heal and become whole again.

This is a powerful and moving story. The slow beginning may be challenging but be assured that it will eventually build into a compelling and rewarding effort.


This is the author’s first novel for adults.

Other titles you may enjoy:

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (2010)
Follows the fates of five interrelated families--American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh--as they move through the dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.

Deafening by Frances Itani (2003)
Left profoundly deaf from scarlet fever, Grania O'Neill grows up protected from the hearing world and learning sign language, but her life changes when she falls in love with Jim Lloyd, a hearing man, on the eve of the Great War.

13 Rue Therese by Elena Shapiro (2011)
American academic Trevor Stratton discovers a box full of artifacts from World War I as he settles into his new office in Paris. The pictures, letters, and objects in the box relate to the life of Louise Brunet, a feisty, charming Frenchwoman who lived through both World Wars. As Trevor examines and documents the relics the box offers up, he begins to imagine the story of Louise Brunet's life: her love for a cousin who died in the war, her marriage to a man who works for her father, and her attraction to a neighbor in her building at 13 Rue Therese. The more time he spends with the objects though, the truer his imaginings of Louise's life become, and the more he notices another alluring Frenchwoman: Josianne, his clerk, who planted the box in his office in the first place, and with whom he finds he is falling in love.

No comments:

Post a Comment