17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
my dear, i wanted to tell you,
This review is from: My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You (Paperback)
This novel intertwined the lives of five people during WWI in a way I particularly enjoyed. There was Riley and Nadine, two young adults who grew up together but in differing class positions. They both loved each other but Nadine's disapproving mother and their class divide meant that they were not going to have their happily ever after. Then there was Peter and his wife Julia and cousin Rose. Riley and Peter meet in the frontline and become friends and the three women also, eventually, cross paths.
I think the strength of the start of the book lies in how the author portrays the difficulties of coping with war - both for the men fighting and for those left behind. There was no way for the men to prepare themselves for the horrors that they would see (and I don't suppose the preparation these days is much better despite the fact we all feel a bit desensitised to it thanks to the media) just as the women struggled to cope without their men. What I liked was how the author showed the coping mechanisms for the three women so differently: Rose and, after a while, Nadine were very much the stoic women who coped best by doing things, in this case joining the Voluntary Aid Detachment as nurses. Though they were working in different areas, they eventually became friends through letters relating to an injured character. Julia, however, seemed so lost and directionless throughout the novel, falling into a depression and becoming fixated on perfection: perfection of the home and perfection of her looks. It was sad to read. This is not to say that the author did not write well about Riley and Peter and their experiences, she did, it's just that my particular interest is of women's roles during war.
Towards the end, the book became a sort of grim, gripping tale of the early development of facial reconstruction surgeries after one of the characters is injured badly. I have to say, being a bit of a nerd, I found this fascinating and it took my focus away from the characters for a while. This is not the fault of the book, it's more my own interest in how medicine and science have developed throughout the years and the fact that it will probably always override the happenings of a story.
Now to mention a few things that annoyed me about the novel. I felt that it dragged a bit in places and was ever so slightly predictable. I never felt like it had a sense of suspense, of the unknown, that I like when I read. Also, despite the fact I mostly liked them, the female characters were a bit on the clichéd side: artistic Nadine who falls for a working class lad, beautiful but otherwise useless Julia, and the plain but caring Rose. I also felt like Rose was a woefully underused character as, of all the women, she had the most interesting story arc.
Despite the flaws it had, I found My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You a gripping read. In the Q&A at the end of this book, the author mentions the possibility of a sequel during WWII and I would definitely like to read it.