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My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You, By Louisa Young

A nice wartime romance – shame about the peace

At the centre of Louisa Young's Great War weepy is Riley Purefoy, a working-class lad taken in by a wealthy bohemian household. He strikes up a romance with Nadine, the family's pretty daughter, before history comes between them.

While serving in the Army, Riley is horrifically disfigured by a German shell and, stricken with self-loathing, resolves never to see his beloved again.

The descriptions of the horrors of the trenches here ring true, but the scenes set back in Britain are quite excruciating: Young gives us a green and pleasant land of beneficent toffs and appreciative proles. It comes as no surprise to learn that Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens has been chosen to narrate the audiobook version.