Known to children around the world for the best-selling Lionboy series…Louisa Young makes use of her abundant storytelling gifts in her first novel for adults: My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, a moving tale of men and women tested to their limits by World War I.
The Washington Post
Singular in quality, if not unique in plot or tone, Young's WWI novel, her adult debut after coauthoring the Lionboy YA trilogy, follows two emblematic couples: Peter and Julia Locke, lovely and well-placed until their relationship disintegrates under the pressure of war and changing conventions, and, more centrally, working class Riley and posh Nadine, who, in a nice bit of symmetry, are hampered before the war by the very upper crustiness that the Lockes embody, but are subsequently more free to love each other and better suited by their modernity and openness to survive. Still, separation and a terrible injury ensure uncertainty and tension. The plot has a certain Atonement feel to it—working-class boy is semiadopted by upper-middle-class family and educated beyond his station, then falls unacceptably in love with their independent-minded daughter and goes to war while she becomes a nurse—but the similarities become increasingly irrelevant as Young's characters come into their own and easily shoulder the burden of escorting readers through an unsensationalized and thoughtful story of English class, world war, and that universal constant—love. (June)
Set in London, Paris, and Ypres, Belgium, Young's (Desiring Cairo) latest novel quickly captivates with a tale of two couples, each affected in powerful ways by the horrors of World War I. Riley Purefoy and Nadine Waveney met as children and formed an instant bond. Challenged by class differences and later by distance, their love is put to the test when Riley volunteers for military service. Riley's commanding officer, Peter Locke, is suffering his own tribulations in the trenches, while Peter's naive wife, Julia, undergoes a metamorphosis at home. Perhaps the only person who can keep them all from falling apart is Rose, a toughened yet loyal and compassionate nurse, who acts as a support system and whose character adds a wonderfully rich layer to the story. VERDICT With well-written, mesmerizing prose reminiscent of an earlier era, this novel will be enjoyed by any fan of romance or historical fiction. The level of detail and description is sometimes shocking but always poignant and relevant. [See Prepub Alert, 11/20/10.]—Amy M. Handley, Kent State Univ., Columbus
Innocence, devastation and restored hope cycle through two British couples after the men go to France to fight World War I and the women cope with their absence in very different ways. This is Young's first adult novel to be published in the United States.
An epic love story, a grim war chronicle, a class study, a heartwarming tale of overcoming—London native Young's page-turner hasMasterpiece Classicwritten all over it. Riley Purefoy, a bright, wide-eyed, working class boy, falls for the sweet, privileged and equally adoring Nadine Waveney after stumbling into a childhood job posing for her neighbor, a famous painter. At 18, still a prize model and still in love with Nadine, Riley enlists to flee from an embarrassing encounter with a gay student painter. He proves a good soldier and rises in rank, but immersed in daily traumas, sinks into disillusionment and then worse after a part of his face is shot off. Meanwhile, Riley's battle-scarred commanding officer, Peter Locke, is consumed by alcohol. Back home, while Nadine works as a volunteer nurse for returning soldiers, Peter's wife Julia obsesses over her looks after being rebuffed by him during a short leave. She risks a very different kind of plastic surgery than a devoted doctor performs on Riley to reconstruct his jaw. While following the conventions of Victorian-era fiction (unbeknownst to him, Riley's caregiver is Peter's cousin), Young brings a modern, frill-free sensibility to the material. There's considerably less sentimentality than you usually encounter in such stories. Young, a graceful and light-handed writer, offers apowerful account of war, and her detailed descriptions of the experimental reconstructive surgery add a compelling element to the story.
A literate, moving wartime tale in which love triumphs over despair.