I recently read two books that were set in the WWI timeframe – one post and in paper format (The Mapping of Love and Death) and one during and in audio (My Dear I Wanted to Tell You). Both were excellent stories.
In keeping with my reading from my shelf, my free-range reading, and/or my catching up with the Maisie Dobbs series (all apply here!), I pulled The Mapping of Love and Death just at the very end of the year. Jacqueline Winspear is releasing #12 in the series this year (Journey to Munich) and The Mapping of Love and Death is #7, so I have some catching up to do! I couldn’t think of a better book, now that I’ve finished it, than The Mapping of Love and Death, to have been able to get back in touch with Maisie and this series.
It had been too long since I’ve spent time with Maisie and this was a wonderful story to use for playing catch-up. Not only was the mystery/story itself top notch, there were also many personal things to happen for Maisie in #7 here. In addition to the wonderful sleuthing story, there was this wonderful continuation of the storyline involving Maisie’s beloved mentor, Maurice, and a possible new love interest for her as well. The great number of personal touches for Maisie’s story, and the compelling mystery that did keep me guessing most of the time made for a thoroughly enjoyable read. I was very happy to have picked this one, putting everything else aside for it. I have #8 in the series on my Kobo, A Lesson in Secrets, and it will be one that I do not wish to delay in reading, especially after how very much I enjoyed The Mapping of Love and Death.
My plan for free-range reading worked brilliantly for me in this case!
If you haven’t read any Maisie Dobbs books yet, this one (#7) wouldn’t be the one to start with. These, like Elizabeth George’s and Louise Penny’s mysteries, need to be read in a bit of an order or else you’ll be lost in their personal developments and storylines.
The second book I picked out was in the WWI timeframe as well (and I have to admit that sometimes, just sometimes, I didn’t keep the two storylines too separate, so I don’t want to put myself in that place again. 🙂 ). My #1 reason for choosing this one was because it was an audiobook narrated by Dan Stevens. I’ve gushed enthusiastically about Stevens’ narration talents before, and went on a spending spree in Audible to scoop up as many books narrated by him that would appeal. (As an aside, because he narrates Frankenstein, I do want to get a copy of it in audio for interest’s sake.)
My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is a beautifully told story about the lasting bonds of love, the trauma and the horrors seen, and the tests these horrors and traumatic events have on two different couples during the years of WWI. It is a lovely story, and Dan Stevens does another fine job narrating this one (although the one voice he gave the nurse Rose irritated somewhat). It is an intertwining story of two couples through the years of the war: Riley Purefoy is a working class boy that has held tight to his childhood love to the upper class girl Nadine; and Peter Locke, Riley’s commanding officer during the war, and his wife Julia.
Julia’s story is about finding purpose during the war and dealing with her ever changing husband Peter. Peter is not handling his time fighting in the war well, and his lessening returns on leave reveal a different and distant man each time. Riley signs up in order to distance himself from Nadine – the girl he loves so dearly, but isn’t accepted as a suitable man given her family’s upper class status. Nadine however is also very much in love with Riley, and their story also moves back and forth in perspective, and includes the dramatic injury and long rehabilitation for Riley.
It is a nicely told story, almost gentle and quiet in its telling. It’s a story focusing on the reclamation of love, fighting for the ones you love and returning to some kind of life with some sort of normalcy following this long war filled with too much horror and trauma. Riley, Nadine, Peter and Julia’s story continues in Young’s sequel, The Heroes’ Welcome. This is one that I will reach for, I am very interested in continuing their story, and I will more than likely pick this one in paper format this time. I think. Even though Dan Stevens narrates it as well, I’m not sure it was the most compelling performance where I would want to listen to him again in the audio version (especially if Rose makes many appearances in it).