My Dear I Wanted to Tell You (Paperback)

By Louisa Young

Harper Perennial, 9780061997150, 330pp.

Publication Date: June 26, 2012



"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.

Praise For My Dear I Wanted to Tell You

“Every once in a while comes a novel that generates its own success, simply by being loved. Louisa Young’s My Dear I Wanted to Tell You inspires the kind of devotion among its readers not seen since David Nicholls’ One Day.”
-The Times (London)

Conversation Starters from

  1. To what extent does Riley's class influence his behavior, and the behavior of others throughout the novel?
  2. How does Riley's attitude to the war change as the novel progresses? How does Riley's attitude to the war change as the novel progresses?
  3. Do you think the actions of Riley and his reasons for going to war were good ones and do you think society has learnt lessons from the atrocities that occurred, or is it still happening today?
  4. Do you think society's attitude to going to war today (ex: Afghanistan) differs from the attitude at the time of the First World War?
  5. "Julia had learnt to love her own beauty, because beauty was currency, and other people valued it so highly." Discuss how this view of Julia's influences her behavior throughout the novel.
  6. Compare her experiences of plastic surgery with those of Riley's. Is feeling ugly on the inside really that different to looking ugly on the outside?
  7. "A girl needs a good reputation, these days more than ever. Art school is for times of peace and plenty, not for unmarried girls in wartime." Consider this advice that Nadine's mother gives her. How does this symbolize society's attitude to women, and does the war change this view in the novel?
  8. The title of the novel is taken from a standard-issue field postcard that soldiers had to fill in during the war - Riley fills in one such field postcard. Consider the ways we communicated with our loved ones then compared to now.