Home > My Dear I Wanted to Tell You

Louisa Young
pub date: March 31 2011
UK: HarperCollins
US: HarperCollins

Canada: HarperCollins

Richard & Judy Bookclub Choice 2012

Waterstone's 'This Week's Must Read'

BBC Radio 2 Book Club choice.

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize, the Galaxy Book of the Year, and the Costa Novel of the Year.

Winner of the Galaxy Audiobook of the Year.

'Powerful, sometimes shocking, boldly conceived, and irradiated by anger and pity' - Sunday Times

'A masterly storyteller' - Washington Post   

'Divine' - The Times    

'Compelling and deeply moving' - the Observer

'Palpable, frightening, inspiring and painful.There are echoes here of Rebecca West . . . the core of the book is a love story built on rich, strange details of the first world war' -The Guardian

'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 

'Unmissable' - Marie Claire 

'Birdsong for the new millennium' - Tatler

'Weaves heartbreakingly painful irony, heroic sacrifice, human weakness, vanity, tragedy and the purest of loves - you'll be left sobbing and grasping on to any hope...'  -  Easy Living

'This is the finest Great War novel since Susan Hill's Strange Meeting . . . (it) encompasses themes of shifting perceptions of class; of the lingering, insistent consolation of art; of incorrigible wiliness; of unflinching duty and endurance; of the need to maintain a sense of identity when everything militates against it, and of selfless generosity, optimism and intense passion. Her research is meticulous, sometimes harrowing. The atmosphere she creates is often appalling, always compelling, and her narrative drive is powerful enough to keep you up all night.' - Independent on Sunday

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 Julia and gentle, eccentric Peter are married: every day Julia prepares 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 their future is completely out of 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 are dead?


MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU is a big First World War novel with a difference, moving between Ypres, Amiens, London, Paris, Lancashire and Kent to tell of the experiences of women left at home as much as those of men in the trenches. It is the first of a trilogy observing - through the descendents of Peter, Julia, Riley, Nadine, Rose and others - ways in which the experiences of that massively traumatic period and its aftermath shaped the following generations: all of us who grew up in the twentieth century.

The title comes from a standard letter which was provided to soldiers who were wounded and admitted to hospital (see above).

From the publisher:

'I am so pleased and proud to be publishing Louisa at HarperCollins. My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You is an extraordinary novel of love and loss, which vividly depicts life for the men in the trenches as well as for the women left at home during WWI and will appeal to the fans of Sebastian Faulks and Sadie Jones. I really knew we had something special as my colleagues all sat sobbing at their desks while reading the manuscript. Louisa is a huge talent and I am thrilled that we're going to be publishing her across the group.' - Katie Espiner, HarperCollins

From a professional who kindly looked at it to point out any technical errors....

'It’s a great privilege to have seen this. I am amazed how you have captured the spirit; maybe I am too close to the action, but I think this is a great book ... I have to say that the whole thing was difficult to put down. Hence this “review” at an unearthly hour (I have spent the last hour finishing it). Will there be a sequel telling us what happens next?'

From other novelists 

‘She has caught the ethos of the first world war extraordinarily well: the vast gap between the unspeakable horror of the trenches, and the drudgery overlaid by the chronic anxiety of the people left at home. Also the vast conspiracy of silence that was preserved by those fighting to protect the people they were fighting for. Young also writes very well and convincingly about that well-worn subject love, making it fresh and real and alive. All in all, this novel is a triumph.’

- Elizabeth Jane Howard


'At the heart of My Dear I Wanted To Tell You are an irresistible hero and heroine: the passionate, ambitious, strong-minded Riley and Nadine.  How their lives are transformed -literally and figuratively - by World War I makes for a surprisingly suspenseful and tender novel. I was enraptured by these pages.’

- Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

'My Dear I Wanted To Tell You is one of those books that doesn’t leave you, and probably never will.  So deep was the place it touched  in my heart, that I wanted to keep the book itself close by; as if I could comfort each character and keep them tightly held.  Many writers have set out describe war’s dark, lingering shadow, though few have truly succeeded.  In this story of lives torn apart by the horror of the Great War, where even the soul struggles to rise amid the detritus of battle, Louisa Young proves herself to be one of those writers, and she has told this story very, very well.’ 

- Jacqueline Winspear, the author of the New York Times bestselling mystery series featuring Maisie Dobbs, former WWI nurse turned investigator.