If I hadn’t read a lot of favourable reviews of Louisa Young’s novel My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You, I would never have picked it up. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I’m allergic to men in greatcoat’s on WWI novels. On the other hand it’s better than a man in a greatcoat kissing a woman. But, as fluffy as it looks, the reviews made it sound poignant.
Louisa Young is a versatile author. Not only has she written three previous novels and a biography but, as Zizou Corder, she also writes a successful YA adult series together with her daughter.
Here are the first sentences
France, 7 June, 3.10 a.m.
It had been a warm night. Summery. Quiet, as such nights go.
The shattering roar of the explosion was so very sudden, cracking through the physicality of air and earth, that every battered skull, and every baffled brain within those skulls, was shaken by it, and every surviving thought was shaken out. It shuddered eardrums and set livers quivering; it ran under skin, set up counter-waves of blood veins and arteries, pierced rocking into the tiny canals of the sponge of the bone marrow. It clenched hearts, broke teeth, and reverberated in synapses and the spaces between cells. The men became a part of the noise, drowned in it, dismembered by it saturated. They were of it. It was of them.
They were all used to that.
And some details and the blurb for those who want to join
My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young (UK 2011) WWI, Historical Fiction, 336 pages
A letter, two lovers, a terrible lie. In war, truth is only the first casualty. ‘Inspires the kind of devotion among its readers not seen since David Nicholls’ One Day’ The Times
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 when the war starts, and with problems of their own already, want above all to make promises – but how can they when the future is not in their hands? And Rose? Well, what did happen to the traditionally brought-up women who lost all hope of marriage, because all the young men were dead?
Moving between Ypres, London and Paris, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is a deeply affecting, moving and brilliant novel of love and war, and how they affect those left behind as well as those who fight.
The discussion starts on Friday, 29 September 2014.
Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2014, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.