If I Could Tell You (Paperback)

A Novel

By Elizabeth Wilhide

Penguin Books, 9780143130437, 320pp.

Publication Date: February 28, 2017

List Price: 16.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


“A marvelous work of historical fiction, beautifully crafted and inhabited by morally complex and fully realized characters... compelling, immersive, and utterly impossible to put down.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

Anna Karenina meets World War II, a novel of love, war, and the resilience of one woman's spirit 

England, 1939: Julia Compton has a beautifully well-ordered life. Once a promising pianist, she now has a handsome husband, a young son she adores, and a housekeeper who takes care of her comfortable home. Then, on the eve of war, a film crew arrives in her coastal town. She falls in love.
The consequences are devastating. Penniless, denied access to her son, and completely unequipped to fend for herself, she finds herself adrift in wartime London with her lover, documentary filmmaker Dougie Birdsall. While Dougie seeks truth wherever he can find it, Julia finds herself lost. As the German invasion looms and bombs rain down on the city, she faces a choice—succumb to her fate, or fight to forge a new identity in the heat of war.

About the Author

Elizabeth Wilhide is the author of Ashenden. Born in the United States, she has lived in Britain since 1967. She has two children and lives in south London.

Praise For If I Could Tell You: A Novel

“While comparisons to Anna Karenina could be made, Julia is made of stronger stuff, and eventually, she crafts a useful life and is able to discover some measure of peace. The author’s careful attention to period detail, complemented by clean prose, is a special strength of this book. The effects of wartime ruin are vividly rendered, and one can almost taste the dust falling through the stairs during bombing raids.”—Booklist (Starred Review)

“Readers who enjoy introspective and morally ambiguous tales such as Jojo Moyes’s The Last Letter from Your Lover and Anita Shreve’s The Pilot’s Wife will want to pick up this tale from a promising writer . . . Wilhide delves deep into the human psyche, especially when it comes to loving and losing.”—Library Journal

"Heart-wrenching . . .Wilhide creates a closely detailed, finely shaded portrayal of love and war."—Kirkus Reviews 

If I Could Tell You is a beautifully composed work of historical fiction, its atmospheric lyricism a testimony to the obvious skills of the author, who evokes Britain’s past with honesty and feeling.”Historical Novels Review

“Intoxicating.”—The Times (London)

“A searing recollection of an era of terror when as the author puts it, ‘people fell out of the sky.’”—Washington Times

“A heartrending story of passion and loss, beautifully crafted with finely drawn characters and wonderful detail.”—Mary-Rose MacColl, internationally bestselling author of In Falling Snow

"Vivid, candid, engaging. So honest."Helen Dunmore, author of Exposure

“Shades of Brief Encounter surround this wonderful, clear-eyed story set in the London blitz. As war devastates the city, love tears a woman’s life apart. The story of Julia, a woman undone by her affair, is both realistic and utterly heart wrenching.”—Jane Thynne, author of The Pursuit of Pearls

“Elizabeth Wilhide writes with a historian's eye and a storyteller's grace. In If I Could Tell You, she transports readers from pre-war Britain to the Blitz and beyond, showing us how love, lust, and ultimately family can guide the heart even through the most difficult times. I fell in love with this perfectly executed take on the love triangle and the tragic heroine who turns out to be more than she ever imagined.”—Karin Tanabe, author of The Gilded Years

"Unflinching, excellent...Wartime Britain has been rarely so skillfully evoked."—Daily Mail (UK)

"Beautifully observed and written."—Woman and Home

"An elegant, absorbing tale of hope and resilience."Sainsbury's Magazine