“My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is one of those books that doesn’t leave you, and probably never will.”
—Jacqueline Winspear, New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs novels
The onrush of World War I irrevocably intertwines the lives of two young couples in Louisa Young’s epic tale of love in the midst of chaos. Perfect for readers of Atonement, The Mapping of Love and Death, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Young’s moving novel of class struggles, star-crossed romance, and the grim reality of the battlefield is a stunning exploration of the devastating consequences, physical and spiritual, of a world enmeshed in Total War.
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.