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196 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cant stop thinking about it .........
I have read quite a few war books and heard a tale end interview of the author of this book on the radio and was inspired to buy it. Am so glad I did. It is a rich story of the horrors of war but told from a very human aspect. It is not a documentary of WWI with dates and places, albeit its a full factual account. It is how as people, ordinary people fared in the war...
Published on 22 May 2011 by lovekindle

versus
47 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars promising but not engrossing
The First World War has been an era that has provided writers with inspiration for some very moving and poignant fiction. This latest offering by Louisa Young, follows the men on the frontline and the women they leave behind.
Riley Purefoy signs up in attempt to escape from a broken heart after Mrs Waveney makes it clear he isn't good enough for her daughter, Nadine...
Published on 22 Mar. 2011 by sahara


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196 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cant stop thinking about it ........., 22 May 2011
This review is from: My Dear I Wanted to Tell You (Kindle Edition)
I have read quite a few war books and heard a tale end interview of the author of this book on the radio and was inspired to buy it. Am so glad I did. It is a rich story of the horrors of war but told from a very human aspect. It is not a documentary of WWI with dates and places, albeit its a full factual account. It is how as people, ordinary people fared in the war and the horrors they faced and the loves they lost. I absolutely loved it and cannot stop thinking about Major Locke, Rose, Julia, Nadine and ofcourse Riley. The book made me cry - and in the middle - not at the end. It is written with such strong emotion and pathos that I, who have never reviewed a book before decided I must review this one. Please read it, as although it is a story, what you learn from this story is far greater than a factual account of what happened in this awful awful war. The characters are so plausible and their incredible bravery makes me so proud to be British. I hope the writer gets the credit she deserves for this, as it truly is thought-provoking, heart rendering and probably even more corny expressions used in these reviews but which are completely needed here!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stay with it for the second half, 3 Jan. 2012
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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 will be Peter Locke, who has left his wife Julia and cousin Rose behind in England. While Julia pines for her husband, Rose signs up as a nurse in a hospital specialising in facial reconstructions.

The first half of the book is about the experiences that the five have adapting to the realities of war and the shifts it brings about in their relationships. In the second half, Riley suffers a serious injury which will affect all of the characters in different ways.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It did a very good job of conveying the various facets of war, the experience for those in the trenches, in the hospitals and stranded at home. There were parts that were beautifully written but at other times the choppiness of the narrative became hard to take. I didn't really feel caught up in it until the second half, when it settles down and became (for me) far more involving and moving. The ending is somewhat contrived, but also genuinely satisfying.

The characters could have been better developed. Riley and Nadine's relationship is the central thread, but too often we were told about how they felt for one another rather than feeling it. Rose is a wonderful character, but she is frequently sidelined. Peter is nice enough but less than interesting and his wife Julia is a vapid and tedious character on whom far too much time is wasted. Clearly that couple were included to show a broader canvas of reactions to the war, but they didn't develop in any significant way or add much to the book. Another review here mentions how you can see the author's "workings" as she constructed the story, and that's how I felt also.

If this whets your appetite to read more about how World War 1 changed the role of women in England, I recommend the novel Half of the Human Race.
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87 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning novel, don't be put off by the terrible front cover!, 4 Aug. 2011
This review is from: My Dear I Wanted to Tell You (Kindle Edition)
The front cover of this book, reminiscent of yet another beach chick-flick read, nearly put me off. Fortunately with the encouragement of a close friend, I launched into one of the best books I've read this year. So often novels set during the First World War dwell on the painful minutiae of trench-life, with characters taking second place in the spin of a narrative dominated by bloody gore. In contrast this novel pushes the characters to the fore, with piercing characterisation and poignancy. Best of all it is far from predictable, allowing the reader to turn the pages with an anticipatory appetite for what is to follow.
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100 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate study of love, war and the endurance of the human spirit, 3 April 2011
By 
Steve Benner "Stonegnome" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Great War of 1914-1918 has provided rich pickings for novelists over the years; almost a hundred years after the event, the scale of the horrors and human suffering remain such that hardly a month goes by without the appearance of at least one new story based on events of those times. One would think that by now almost everything that there was to say on the matter had already been said, and many times over, at that; in a sense, it probably has. Certainly, Louisa Young's "My Dear I Wanted To Tell You" brings nothing particularly new to the oeuvre; indeed, many of her themes and her characterisations are so predictable as to border on the hackneyed. But what this particular book may lack in originality it more than makes up for in masterful handling of pace, clear-sighted and poignant portrayal of thought-processes and emotions, a wonderful understanding of the human condition, all married to a flawless grasp of dramatic structure and flow.

The book draws you in from the very first page, and holds you in a vice-like grip right to the very last page. There are times when it is hard even to remember to breathe. When she finally lets you go, it is with a sense of exhilaration as well as exhaustion.

The story is well researched and rich in historical detail but this is always kept properly subservient to the main narrative; Louisa Young always keeps her characters well to the foreground, never allowing the historical fact and scale of the events themselves to take over -- a mistake all too often made in books of this kind. "My Dear I Wanted to Tell You" operates first and foremost at a fundamentally human level, bringing home the truth that in those times there were a great deal more (and more important) battles fought daily in people's minds than in the mud of Flanders, and that the casualties of war on this scale extend well beyond those killed or maimed in the fighting. It also has a lot to say about the endurance and resilience of the human spirit (as well as a fair amount about how fragile that can be too) and the dangerous comfort to be found in lies, both to oneself and to loved ones.

Absolutely first rate.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story - you must read it!, 23 Mar. 2012
This novel is ultimately a romance but so much more. It certainly doesn't romanticise the horrors of war. You will be totally gripped by the characters dilemmas. Riley and Nadine are unforgettable and I am delighted to read that Louisa Young is planning a sequel. As others have said, you will be gripped by and traumatised by this novel. It is made so much more poignant when you know that many of the characters actually existed and many others are based on real people. It is rare for me to cry when reading but this book made me cry at the horrors these young men - boys really - had to face. And also thinking of the young women coping with nursing men with horrific wounds. One of the quotes on the back says 'Birdsong for the new millennium'. Being a huge fan of Birdsong I was sceptical but it is true. It inspires the same emotional attachment to the characters and they will stay with you long after you have finished the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Dear..., 21 May 2014
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: My Dear I Wanted to Tell You (Kindle Edition)
Beginning in Edwardian London, Louisa Young's fourth novel focuses on Riley Purefoy, an attractive, young working-class boy, who meets the well-to-do bohemian Waveney family after a mishap in the park near to their beautiful Georgian house. Riley is taken back to the Waveney home and is soon taken under their wing, making friends with the children, Noel and Nadine, and working as an artist's model and assistant for a family friend, painter Sir Alfred Pleasant. Sir Alfred, keen to support Riley in his quest to improve himself, invites him to live in his home, allows him access to his library and pays for his education. As the years pass, Riley and Nadine become particularly close and by the time they are in their late teens, and the First World War has begun, they have fallen in love with one another. However, Nadine's mother makes it clear that Riley is not the right class for her daughter, and her objections, plus an embarrassing incident with a young artist friend, encourage a confused Riley to join up with the hopes of becoming a 'proper' man who is worthy of Nadine. In Belgium, Riley comes under the command of Captain Peter Locke, a sensitive musical man, who takes a liking to Riley and is keen to see him promoted. War at the front line, however, is worse than Riley could ever have imagined and in order to cope with the horrors he is bombarded with daily, where he "walks on corpses and breathes death" he tries to shut himself off and exist in an almost hypnotic state focusing only on what has to be done. When he writes to Nadine, who has now become a VAD nurse, to explain his feelings, she responds with warmth and understanding and when the pair meet up for three days' leave, they are keen to explore their deep and passionate feelings for one another.

Peter Locke meanwhile, verging on a nervous breakdown, arrives home in Sidcup to beautiful, but shallow and seemingly self-absorbed wife, Julia, whose only aim in life appears to be to keep herself lovely for her husband, and who is bitterly disappointed when Peter cannot bring himself to put the war behind him and enjoy his leave with her. (Shades of Rebecca West's Return of the Soldier (Modern Library)). Also in Sidcup is Peter's cousin, Rose, an independent and very resourceful young woman working as a nurse at the Queen's Hospital under the pioneering plastic surgeon, Major Gillies (a real-life character). And it is to Queen's Hospital that Riley Purefoy arrives after half of his face is blown off when he returns to the front. Under Rose's care and the skilled hands of Major Gillies, who reconstructs the lower half of his horrifically injured face, Riley's outward injuries slowly begin to heal, but he is convinced that his relationship with Nadine must end to avoid her wasting her life on him out of pity. And so he writes her a letter ...

This is a very readable story and one which I started and finished practically in one sitting and, although I will say that I found parts of this novel a little too romantically sentimental for me, Louisa Young's historian qualifications and excellent research, evident in her vivid descriptions of the terrible conditions experienced by soldiers at the front, and her fascinating information on the pioneering work on facial reconstruction carried out by Gillies and his team, lifted this novel to something with more depth and readability than the average romantic saga. Louisa Young was also careful to show the reader how the war continued to affect her characters after their traumatic experiences and this aspect of the story, I believe, is continued in the author's sequel to this novel: The Heroes' Welcome which is due to be released very soon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 15 May 2012
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You know when sometimes you read a book and think `why did I waste my valuable time reading that' and then you read a book that lives with you long after you have finished it, and in fact you get cross as you do not want it to end, "My Dear I Wanted to Tell You" is that kind of book. Fantastic read...........I love a book that you can not put down and this is one of them. A real vivid portrayal of The Great War of 1914-1918 juxtaposed with the love story which keeps the reader interested to see how the love story develops (a bit like Captain Corelli's Mandolin). Like Louis de Bernières, Louisa Young writes in very much in the same way. This book would be a great for studying for A Level and reading groups.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving if not totally convincing, 16 April 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is one of those books you will read to the last page to find out what happens even though it's a bit of a struggle sometimes. That doesn't mean that "My Dear..." is badly written, far from it. The author is delicate in her handling of human relationships and emotions, and paints vivid enticing characters. It's just the plot doesn't always follow particularly well, and the ending in particular for me was a little too 'pat'. I'd have liked to have understood more about the motivations of Peter and Julia, a married couple, and I felt that in particular Julia's troubles were somewhat sidelined as she fought her own private war.

What this book does is reminds you of how life went on behind WW1 and indeed after it, and it's rare that a book does this. It also looks at the role of women during wartime, something which I hadn't read before apart from in factual accounts. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in life before, during and after the Great War.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The audio CD is fabulous too!, 14 Nov. 2011
By 
djdhp (Herts. England) - See all my reviews
Many other reviews here deal very well in various ways with the book, its plot and its characters, but I had this as an audio CD and want to urge you to consider that. It is read by Dan Stevens (who plays Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey); he reads it beautifully and I felt it genuinely added something to an excellent novel - it was utterly compelling, so evocative of character and time. My main problem was that when listening to it in the car, I would reach my destination and have to sit there, unable to get out because I couldn't let it go! It is indeed one of those that stays with you - the flawed and fascinating characters, who are so genuine and whose lives you really care about as you follow them. I am now buying two more copies as presents for friends of mine - choosing the CD where I would normally have given the book because I enjoyed it so much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4, no 5 stars, 11 Aug. 2012
By 
John Cutts (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
No messing about

From Chapter 1 the characters we are to follow for the next 402 pages are rapidly established.

Our story begins in 1907 - ( remember the era of the Bastable children? - E Nesbit)

Soon war will begin to flicker through Europe, and is about to plunge a third of the world into darkness.

But for now there is the calm and growth in the lives of 2 children growing up in London.

As they develop so the story builds ...

And maybe this is a big part of the simple power that Louisa Young exhibits -the story unfolds at a steady pace that draws us deep into the worlds of Riley and Nadine.

Louisa Young shows great technical ability, and yet there is much more.

The commentary lying underneath is always present - social, sexual and scientific.

She understands the creative life of an artist - a musician - a writer.
And she reveals humanity rather than perfection.

And it becomes clear that this is not writing for the satisfaction of a task beautifully performed - a grander design runs through; the minute Riley commits himself to his timeless future we are ready to go with him into the darkness - hoping against hope he will be one of the precious few to be saved.

His energy brings light to the tale, and the sheer liveliness of him warms us enough for us to want to put aside for him those obstacles of class and fortune at the time this story is set.

So we find Louisa Young is a historian as well as a story teller.
She understands the prevailing beliefs and values from 100 years ago.

And truths such as " they all - your fathers , uncles, brothers, grandparents on returning never spoke of it again (the war)- yet some of them must have been dying to surely!" show the authenticity that lends this work such compulsion

Little touches such as her painting of Julia - only a minor character -yet leaping off the page with her vast distance from a bullying mother, her situation silencing her to the frustration of her own life and yes, even illness to herself ring as true the chimes of Big Ben in a London fog.

And her sister-in- law - Rose, described as `unlikely to marry' yet superbly practical, grounded and accomplished - one of the truly strong and anchoring presences that gives the story solidity.

I found the broad reach of the narrative virtually Dickensian - yet Dickens can be known too for his light touch and humour.

And as the brushing of light and shade keeps us focussed, unconsciously perhaps, we understand that here is an author that we can trust - she may shock, and she may challenge -but she will keep us set to the task ahead - in the same way as her diverse cast set to their own tasks -even while facing their own sometimes grisly facts.

All the tributes on the covers and the flyleaf tell us - Read this book,

There is something for you - it will play on your emotions and it may refresh you.

And it is an example of old fashioned story telling where both the reader and the writer have become absorbed in a story, which based on fact, virtually tells itself.

4, no - 5 stars.
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