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My Dear I Wanted to Tell You Paperback – May 31, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First American Edition edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061997145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061997143
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,388,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


“Every once in a while comes a novel that generates its own success, simply by being loved. Louisa Young’s My Dear I Wanted to Tell You inspires the kind of devotion among its readers not seen since David Nicholls’ One Day.” (The Times (London))

More About the Author

Louisa Young grew up in London, in the house in which Peter Pan was written. She studied modern history at Cambridge. She was for many years a freelance journalist, working mostly for the motorcycle press, for Marie Claire and for the Guardian. She has travelled widely and published ten books. She lives in London and Italy with her daughter and the composer Robert Lockhart.

She is the adult half of the authors of the bestselling Lionboy trilogy, which is published in 36 languages. My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is her first adult novel to be published in the United States.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 73 customer reviews
It's several stories in one, as is the case with any captivating, well written book.
Russell G. Moore
Even though I felt the author did not fully develop the characters, I did find myself caring about them and wanting to know what happened to them.
Beverly L. Archer
They struggle to maintain their "love", but such love is based on positions and appearances, each fulfilling their roles.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Anderson VINE VOICE on March 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a beautifully written book about life in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, when WWI broke out. Riley and Nadine meet in London when they are young children and have an instant connection. Nadine is from a "posh" family and Riley is just a commoner. A series of events through the next few years results in Riley joining up and going off to fight in France.

Ms. Young does an excellent job in my opinion of capturing a time and place in history. I have read other accounts of this War but none that captures it so vividly. Following these two young adults and their journey of love and loss during the most difficult, unexplainable tragedies that they face was for me like being there with them. It is written that well.

There is also Peter and Julia, a married couple who have also been separated by this War. Their capacity to handle the atrocities they are faced with because of the war is effecting them in a very different way than Riley and Nadine. They live outside themselves and the horrors of this war. Nadine and Riley are living in the reality of what they are dealing with and share and understand. The author displays how people are so different and are sometimes just hanging on by a thread.

Then there is Rose, a nurse, Peter's sister and a woman most likely to never marry and have children and dealing with all of this in her own way as well.

I truly loved reading this book and can still feel the hearts and souls of these people within me. Fantastic!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dienne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Through a happy accident, ten-year-old, "common-as-muck" Riley Purefoy gets taken in by the aristocratic, artistic Waveney family. Through them, he gets a position in, and basically grows up in, the home of Sir Alfred, an older artist who needs help with his studio. He also grows up with the bright and practical Nadine, the Waveney's young daughter. However, in a fit of boyish pique after their relationship is forcefully halted, Riley joins the army and serves in the trenches of World War I Belgium and France. As a "good soldier, decent bloke", and because of his knowledge of the arts, Riley attracts the attention of his commanding officer, Major Peter Locke. The story explores the tentative hold of love and relationship in the midst of war as it shifts between and among Riley and Nadine, Peter and his wife Julia, and Peter's sister Rose.

I was surprised to read the tepid and even negative reviews already posted. Each to his/her own, I suppose, but I was entranced from the first few pages of the book. I didn't want to stop for so much as a breath. Or actually, sometimes I simply couldn't come up for air. I found the characters engaging, understandable, human and likable. Ms. Young understands her characters, their motivations, their limitations and their foibles, so even when they behave in unlikeable ways, I still found myself liking them as humans caught in inhuman suffering.

In my opinion, what some are describing as a lack of character development is actually part of Ms. Young's point. She is writing about a society on the verge of change - from the Victorian period to the post-World War I era.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This World War I love story makes no claims on greatness -- it will be marketed explicitly as a romance -- but I read it with tears running down my cheeks. Of course I am British, and the setting and genre made me entirely comfortable. These are my people, my corner of England, my father's war. This is the kind of novel they have been writing since the first war ended. They still do, actually; this is the world of the earlier MAISIE DOBBS books, and many literary novels such as Ian McEwan's ATONEMENT and A. S. Byatt's THE CHILDREN'S BOOK call on the same tradition. And this is a very strong book of its type; the war scenes are believable, the major characters are sympathetic and well-rounded, and the emotion flows freely.

It begins in Kensington Gardens with the meeting of two eleven-year-old children, Nadine Waveney and Riley Purefoy. Nadine's cousin throws a snowball that knocks Riley off balance into the Round Pond; her mother brings him into their nearby house to dry off. They come from different backgrounds (this is an English story, after all): Nadine's father is a famous conductor, Riley's is a fireman. But other circumstances intervene. Riley is asked to pose by a painter friend of the family, and is virtually adopted by the older man; Nadine visits regularly for lessons. Then war breaks out, ending their idyll just as they are beginning to acknowledge their attraction, at least to themselves.
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