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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You

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?

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.

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
by Louisa Young

  • Publication Date: June 26, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0061997153
  • ISBN-13: 9780061997150