Welcome to She Said/She Said, where GGC Members are our book reviewers from across Canada sharing their opinions about the book of the month.
This month, we take a look at My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young, published by Harper Collins Canada. Moving between Ypres, London and Paris, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is a stunning First World War epic of love, war and sacrifice.
Book Reviewer Suggested GGC Rating: This book is suitable for adults 18+ containing very little to no profanity, sexual content or mature themes within the context of the story.
She Said: Guider Shirley
1st Gravenhurst Guides and Pathfinders
Louisa Young is a British novelist. Her book, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You transports the reader back in time to England and France during the First World War. The tale revolves around the lives of a young English soldier, his commanding officer and three significant women in their lives.
The author acknowledges the environmental cost of the war to France in the vivid descriptions of the trees, farmland and the air that was damaged. The environmental toll affects not only the physical landscape of Europe, but also the mental landscape of the troops. Louisa’s descriptions are hauntingly detailed. Throughout the story are reminders that taking care of oneself mentally and physically were a challenge and she is effective in presenting ways that the characters could recharge and find help.
Leadership is unquestionably one of the stronger themes in the novel. Although the main character is male, the author does an excellent job of spotlighting the leadership roles that women played in the war, in particular the nurses of the day. But what really drives the plot forward are the emotions of war – love loyalty, honour, fear, shame, guilt, faith and courage.
The spirit of volunteerism is woven into the fabric of this book, as are the visual arts and music. And the backdrop to the story, the War itself, brings in international aspects. The author does a good job of taking the reader back and forth between England and France.
As a historic fictional account, Young does a superb job of creating a realistic feel to the story. This was a great read and I would recommend it to other adults.
* Shirley is an Adult Literacy Instructor for Trillium Lakelands District School Board, and Program Manager for the Literacy Society of South Muskoka
She Said: Guider Jenn/’Snowy Owl’
13th Red Deer Brownies
Red Deer, Alberta
I really enjoyed reading this book; it was very descriptive and paints a very beautiful picture of what life would have been like during the First World War.
I cannot imagine what it must have felt like waiting for your loved one to return home from the War, or worse to receive the news that your loved one is not coming home. What women and men must have gone through during their years of heartache, serving their country. Not only would the women working as nurses have experienced the tragedy of being unable to save lives due to their limited medical knowledge, but men would have seen much worse, knowing that their comrades weren’t going to even make it out of the fields; that their existence would be only a memory for their loved ones.
Throughout the book, Riley tries to remember his comrades, his friends names and how they impacted his life, and he forgets others that had an impact on his life, and has to continue fighting for his freedom and his country.
The picture Louisa Young paints in her book of the nurses and doctors at home and the men on the war front gives those of us who have heard only stories from family members an idea of what actually happened for our freedom.
* Jenn is a 22-year-old from Alberta who loves love and enjoys making new friends. She loves being involved in Girl Guides of Canada and giving girls a chance to shine in their own lives and among their peers.
Have you read this book? Do you agree with these reviews?