Tag Archives: Louisa Young

‘The Heroes’ Welcome’ by Louisa Young

The Heroes' WelcomestarstarstarA story about the aftermath of World War 1, ‘The Heroes’ Welcome’ picks up seamlessly where the first book left off. I would not recommend reading this one without reading ‘My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You’ first. I didn’t like this one as much, so unless you really love Young’s expressive prose, you could just stick with the first book which features the true story of amazing medical work pioneered by the father of plastic surgery, Harold Gillies in Sidcup, UK.

In this second novel the war is over, but the after affects are apparent for those who carry on with physical and emotional scars. Long before PTSD had a name, those who had survived war, would continue to suffer. Riley is the most inspiring character as he copes with returning to a normal life after the miraculous facial reconstruction by Dr. Gillies. However, just as in the children’s book Wonder, people are affected by their looks and it is so hard for someone with a severe disability or disfigurement to get others to see past that.  Young does a good job of exploring all angles of this experience and of this time in history.

P1060935This year marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. There have been many events to commemorate this. The one that touched me the most was the sea of poppies planted around the Tower of London. Not only was it an impressive artistic display in the city and an incredible object lesson, but also so symbolic. From a distance all of the poppies looked exactly the same, as if dressed in uniform (like soldiers). But the poppies were actually all hand crafted ceramic works of art that were all uniquely different from each other.

‘My Dear, I wanted to tell you’ by Louisa Young

My Dear, I wanted to tell youstarstarstarThis work of historical fiction is a highly readable, earthy, unique love story set in the midst of the First World War. It has a very “real” feel to it and I realized halfway through that much of the novel is true! The characters are well developed and memorable. There is some fascinating medical stuff in it that was new to me. I struggle with how much to reveal about the book, because much of the pleasure of reading it is in discovering how the story unfolds. So I won’t say much, except that parts of it may not be for the feint of heart.

Louisa Young has not included much about the battle details of the war itself, but rather has focussed on how people coped personally. She deals with relationships and what it was like when your loved ones went “over there”. And the myriad of reasons why they went. So many personal battles were fought in the living rooms and towns where no shrapnel flew, and the medical people who were ministering to the dead and dying were as affected as the soldiers in uniform. Young captures the longings and loss of war so well, and how a generation could never be the same again.

Included here are two links about medical advancements that you will find fascinating to read after you have finished the book if you don’t want any spoilers.

BBC iWonder
Guardian Article