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My Dear I Wanted To Tell You

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,268 Ratings  ·  584 Reviews
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 whe ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by The Borough Press (first published 2011)
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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueA Farewell to Arms by Ernest HemingwayThe Regeneration Trilogy by Pat BarkerBirdsong by Sebastian FaulksWar Horse by Michael Morpurgo
WWI - The Great War (Historical Fiction)
25th out of 238 books — 197 voters
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WWII Historic Fiction
134th out of 688 books — 643 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lance Greenfield
Jul 17, 2015 Lance Greenfield rated it really liked it
Until I was almost half way through this book, I was thinking There's not much point in reading this, as the title says it all. I could see it coming. One of the main characters would meet a violent death with so many things left unsaid. I was wrong!

This book is definitely worth reading.

It is multi-threaded, which I always love. The love stories are varied and bring out the contrasts in the way different people deal with situations and with the people closest to themselves.

There is a great dea
A novel that didn't quite seem to know what it wanted to be, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is a surprisingly rounded WWI story that goes beyond the typical narrative. Louisa Young writes best when describing the harsh realities of war and makes no concessions regarding uncomfortable yet true situations. And yet My Dear I Wanted to Tell You also attempts to be a romance book, and there precisely it comes to a screeching halt.

The characters in My Dear I Wanted to Tell You enter the story strangely
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Excuse me, I need to wipe away tears so I can type. And some drool, because the writing in this book had me open-mouthed with awe/horror/amazement/delight. And then some.

This book has it all: pathos, romance, angst -- Kierkegaard-ian angst! -- anger, joy, beauty, and an articulation of war that is cinematic and breathtaking and disturbing.

Set in the years before World War I, and during, the story follows five people -- a couple in love, forbidden due to class differences; a married couple deepl
Sam Woodfield
I pre-release reviewed this novel for a UK bookseller.

Although I can't quite pin-point why, there was something about this book which really sucked me into the world of those within it. The writting is nothing outstanding, the story doesn't have any dramatic climaxes or surprising plot twists, but Young writes in such a way that is still gripping and compelling from start to finish.

Like many novels, this is based during World War 1, but unlike other books of it's type, the focus is on the 'norma
Aug 26, 2011 Nette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most powerful books I've read about WWI: remember the battlefield scenes in "Saving Private Ryan"? This book is full of equally graphic and brilliant scenes. There's also a sweet and realistic love story and a fascinating subplot about reconstructive facial surgery. A couple of reviewers here were QUITE put off by a one-paragraph description of gay sex and the occasional use of the "f word." Ooh, shame on the author for making soldiers say naughty words when mud and rats and corpses a ...more
Alison Wassell
Feb 09, 2011 Alison Wassell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The test of a great book, for me, is whether or not I’m still thinking about it days later. I have a feeling this engrossing novel will be in my thoughts for some time to come.
I’m always drawn to books set during the First World War. My paternal grandfather fought in the trenches and, although he lived to be 97, remained largely silent about his experiences. This is one of the themes of My Dear I Wanted To Tell You; the unspeakable horror of war, and the difficulties encountered by those caught
Alex Nye
May 13, 2012 Alex Nye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have just finished reading My Dear I Wanted to Tell You and really enjoyed it. Hadn't realised that Louisa Young is also the author of LION BOY, so I've just started to read that too.

The novel is set during the First World War, but tells the story in a very original way, much more so than most historical fiction. We really get inside the heads of the characters. What really grabbed me at the beginning of the book was the spiky character of the boy Riley, when he falls in the Round Pound in Kensi
Jess Schira
I am going to begin by saying that Louisa Young has a very lovely, lyrical writing style. It was her writing, more than the actual story that kept me turning the pages. As far as the novel itself goes, I am far less impressed.

To me, this book simply had to much going on. I feel that the author felt that she had a whole bunch of things she wanted to write about that included art, beauty, WWI, and young love, and crammed them all together in one story. She did a wonderful job of cramming, and the
Jan 10, 2012 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story about two soldiers during World War 1 and the women left behind in England who love them. There are five main characters. Riley Purefoy, from a working class background, loves upper class Nadine Waverney despite her mother's disapproval. He volunteers as a soldier at the start of World War 1 - given the choice between volunteering for a year or for the duration of the war, he chooses the latter, because he doesn't want to spend an entire year in the army. His commanding officer ...more
Lydia Laceby
Jul 18, 2012 Lydia Laceby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally Reviewed at Novel Escapes

I found My Dear I Wanted to Tell You equal parts fascinating and horrifying. Although heavy with romance and war, this novel portrayed none of the romance of war. It took me a while to sink into the plot and the characters, but once I did they appeared in my thoughts when I put the novel down and although I enjoyed this novel and thought about it when I wasn’t reading it, I felt it could have been much more captivating.

I didn’t anticipate this war story to be
Sep 14, 2014 Anastasia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2013
Fino a poco fa io neanche sapevo che esistesse questo libro. In realtà questo non è nemmeno il primo libro su cui poserei gli occhi se fossi in libreria, e l'ultimo che sceglierei in un prestito bibliotecario. Sono andata fuori dai miei prevedibili gusti e ho tentato anche di andare contro un'istintiva diffidenza, solo per poter partecipare per la prima volta al gruppo di lettura di questo mese un po' primaverile un po' invernale di "The Perks of Being a Bookworm", primo lettura collettiva in li ...more
Apr 05, 2013 Denise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is constructed around two little-known details of WW1 history. The first is the postcard that the book gives its name to. To save time and unnecessary distress to loved ones back home, the army designed a standard postcard for injured men to complete. This allowed bad news to travel swiftly back to England without having to go through the censors, but also restricted the men to using an emotionless tick box system.

The postcard started with the words ‘My Dear …….. I wanted to tell you,
May 30, 2011 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
When I first started reading this book I thought I had made a poor choice. But once we got to the turning point there was no going back. I couldn't put it down. MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU is one of the most engaging books I have read in quite some time.

The characters were interesting, sympathetic and flawed. The storyline hopped between London and France during WWI, a period in history that I have never taken much time to learn about. There is something in this book for just about everyone an
Tara Chevrestt
I didn't like this much mainly because I really didn't like a single character except Rose and she's really not a "main player."

The main players are:

Riley: He has a bit of a same sex encounter and decides to run off to war to prove he's a real man, not a "nancy." I was terribly put off by this bit.. wasn't expecting it. His parts also contain the "f" word a lot. This did not bother me, but I know it will bother other readers. So make a note of that if you are offended by profanity.

Riley loves, N
Elizabeth Moffat
Aug 12, 2013 Elizabeth Moffat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve actually read this book once before pre-blog days, as it was part of the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list in 2012, and if there’s ever a case for re-reading a book I state it here absolutely and positively. Not that I didn’t enjoy reading it first time around, but I think it got lost somewhere among the awesome books that were on the list that season: Me Before You – Jojo Moyes, The Help – Kathryn Stockett, Before I Go To Sleep – S.J. Watson, The Story of Beautiful Girl – Rachel Simon ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
What, another World War 1 book? Is there something about the fact that no one is left alive to tell -- or criticize the veracity of -- the tale that has led to a recent flourishing (to the already robust genre) of trench literature, usually somehow connected to a story of the folks at home, maybe poets, maybe artsy? Anyway, yes, another one, and another good one. A real energy and lyricism to Young's writing, the "men" come to life, especially her hero, Riley, caught between two worlds, but the ...more
Jul 10, 2012 Serena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young is a WWI novel and love story that illustrates the toll that war takes on couples from mere recruits to the officers that give them orders. Young’s novel examines social and monetary class distinctions, even providing slight nuances to the “poshies” in how they treat the working class. Truly, this is a love story — the story of Riley Purefoy and Nadine Waveney, childhood sweethearts separated by more than the war.

The narration sets it up so that reade
✝✝ Ⓓaisy ❣ Hearts Cole, Lucas, Jesse  & James ✝✝


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I wrecked my heart, cried so much, laughed, fell in love!

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I was deeply moved by the relationship between Riley Purefoy and Nadine....So sweet!!!!! But falling in love during in a war zone was never easy. Dayum, and their social class mattered so much too! Such a pain they put these young lovers through!

Riley and Nadine fell in love, Riley went to war, she become a nurse..... bam a telegram arrives, their life totally changes... terrible lie that made b
Mary Lou
Oct 15, 2012 Mary Lou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louise Young poignantly portrays the horror of war, insightfully revealing the effects on men and women, soldiers and medical teams, those at the front and those at home. She uses three young women and two young men to carry much of the story and bases some of what she writes on real people and actual medical practices and advancements, particular in plastic surgery. When the war is over, all are wounded and needy. The ability to bear the unbearable gives them the ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Eleven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mi sento in dovere di scrivere una recensione per questo libro ancora ingiustamente quasi sconosciuto. Nonostante il boom editoriale in Europa, noto che in Italia non sono in molti ad averlo sentito nominare.
Quanto a me, ringrazio il caso di avermici fatto posare gli occhi in libreria.
Ha la delicatezza di un romanzo romantico (in senso metastorico), la forza di un romanzo di denuncia, la disperazione delle storie che raccontano la verità, la voglia di vivere che infonde chi ha vissuto la morte.
Aug 23, 2013 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, r-j
This is an account of 5 people during world war 1. We meet Riley and Nadine prior to the war. He is working class and becomes a type of protegee for Nadine's family - until she has 'inappropriate' feelings for him. Nadine is a wealthy girl whose family disapprove. Meanwhile we meet Peter and Julia Locke who are upper class and Peter ends up in the trenches as Riley's commanding officer. Julia meanwhile descends into total breakdown as her life becomes meaningless and banal. Peter's cousin, Rose, ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
3.5. This book takes place during World War I, a time period that I have not read very much historical fiction about. I found myself wondering why World War II seems to be such a more popular time period as far as historical fiction goes. Does anyone have any idea why this is?

This book focuses on the stories of two couples and those surrounding them. You never really get to find out about what attracts both couples to each other, which I think would have been nice to know especially considering
Jun 26, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The setting of this book is two locations in England and then mostly the worst battles of WWI. The story begins with Nadine and her brother meeting the young Riley, the son of a working class couple contrasting with Nadine's higher class. Riley is adaptable and is taken in by a high class, artist, Sir Alfred, which provides the young couple access to one another throughout their late childhood. Romance begins to bloom when Riley makes a rash decision and enlists in the European conflict, regrett ...more
Jo Ann
Sep 22, 2011 Jo Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read very little about The Great War, so I cannot make good comparisons in literature about this era. However, this was an eye-opener to me, about the war itself, societal changes during the war, ethics and mores, and an introduction to Major Harold Gillies, who made outstanding progress in maxillo-facial and plastic surgery during World War I, and later, mostly at Queen's Hospital in Sidcup, England.
The story is actually about Riley and Nadine, who meet while they're pre-teens and later
May 30, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book after winning a giveaway here on Goodreads. The book got off to a slow start. It took me around 5 days just to get to the middle of it, whereas I'm usually finishing a book by that time. I found the chapters depiciting Riley's time on the battlefield to be particularly difficult to get through. Granted, this is probably my own weakness, but when too many names are thrown at me at once, I tend to block them all out. Therefore, some of the (very) minor characters were no more ...more
May 20, 2014 Jo rated it it was amazing
Louisa Young doesn't spare us the horrific details of life on the Western Front. How can the handsome, talented artist Riley Purefoy go back to the life he had before war broke out, especially now he is so badly injured? How can he expect the beautiful and equally talented, Nadine to love him now? The novel not only focuses on what life was like for the soldiers fighting in France, but what it was like for the women left behind. I didn't want the book to end. The characters were so life-like, so ...more
Kathe Coleman
Dec 27, 2014 Kathe Coleman rated it really liked it
My Dear I Wanted To Tell You by Louisa Young
Prior to WWI thirteen year old Riley Purefoy, after an icy mishap in the park, finds himself in the home of the Waverneys, a wealthy artistic family who offer him the chance to better himself by being in their service. He falls in love with Nadine Waverney but because of the class differences their relationship is forbidden. The novel focuses on five primary characters, both those women left at home and the men that enlisted. Other players are the beau
It is hard to explain why I didn't like this book more, given my love of historical fiction set during WWI and WWII. Perhaps it was the unnecessarily crude language and the fact that by the end of the book I really didn't like any of the characters. I was, however, fascinated by the depiction of real life plastic surgeon, Dr. Harold Gillies.
Linda Wilson
Feb 13, 2015 Linda Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was excellent. As a WW1 novel, I think it's up there with Faulks' Birdsong. I borrowed this book from the library, but was so impressed by it that I have ordered a copy to keep. I'm sure I will re-read parts of it, and it can be lent for family and friends to enjoy too.

The descriptions of trench warfare, and in particular the battle of the Somme, are incredibly well written, and the thoughts of Riley, one of the main characters involved, are very moving and insightful. The au
Anne Fortier
Jan 16, 2014 Anne Fortier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly excellent, shocking, and very rewarding read.
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Louisa Young was a journalist for some years. Her first book was A Great Task of Happiness (1995), the life of Kathleen Bruce, her grandmother, the sculptor and wife of Scott of the Antarctic. She followed that with her Egyptian trilogy of novels: Baby Love (which was listed for the Orange Prize), Desiring Cairo and Tree of Pearls. They were followed by The Book of the Heart, a cultural histo ...more
More about Louisa Young...

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“Courage for the big troubles in life, lad' he'd say, 'and patience for the small. Be of good cheer. God is awake.” 6 likes
“No one ever wins a war, and wars are never over.” 5 likes
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