The end of another week, and I am proud and absolutely delighted to talk about I Wanted To Tell You by Anna Mansell on the blog today. Warning, this book is dear to me and I might blabber a lot in this review!
Thank you ever so much to the fab Kim for inviting me to be part of this tour and for providing me a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Title: I Wanted To Tell You
Author: Anna Mansell
Date of publication: November 2018
Number of pages: 335
Rating: (yes, I know, I said no more ratings…) 5 stars!
‘Sometimes I think that if I’d found a way to talk, we’d be together now…’
When Helen finds a bundle of unsent love letters, tied with a red ribbon, and signed only ‘the love you wished I could be’, she wonders who they could belong to.
The same day, however, her husband Alex announces he’s leaving. She’d believed their love would last a lifetime, but now he’s gone and she hadn’t even realised there was anything wrong.
Desperate to understand, Helen doesn’t know where to look for answers. But the letters keep drawing her back. As she reads the words of loneliness, loss and regret, something in them helps her start to make sense of it all… Even as she realises someone has been keeping heart-breaking secrets.
But who do the letters belong to? Can the sender ever be reunited with the one they love, or is it too late? And when Helen finds out the truth about Alex, can she find it in her heart to forgive him, or will he never be the love she wished he could be?
An emotional, unmissable read, exploring the devastation of loss, the power of love to heal, and the truths that bind us all together. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Diane Chamberlain and Daniela Sacerdoti.
Have you ever looked at someone and thought ‘There are so many things I wish I could tell you, but I can’t / don’t know how’? It happened to me. Sometimes the words escape us, sometimes the person is already too far. Perhaps the time is wrong. The weather is shitty. Or we are simply blinded by our vision of what we have and don’t remember the essence of love.
Last year, I read my first Anna Mansell novel and I was so moved by it, changed by it, that when I saw the cover and the synopsis for I Wanted To Tell You, I grabbed my chance and picked the book. It felt as if the pages, still unopened, were already whispering to me. As if the novel was waiting for me.
Now I may sound maudlin (don’t worry, I’m sounding maudlin, the book isn’t!!!) and if it is not your first visit on Chocolate’n’Waffles, you might be surprised. Even I am surprised! Still, I can’t deny that I was different when I closed the book.
For me, one of the biggest issues of our time is that we don’t take time. We don’t see what is just here, because there are bills to pay, work to do, kids to take care of, books to read, bath times and friends. We say ‘I love you’ and we mean it. However, saying it is often not enough.
Time stopped when I began reading I Wanted To Tell You. There was just me and those characters. Lives I was intruding to better understand mine.
I Wanted To Tell You has three different voices. Helen is a bus driver. Kind, married, lovely, caring. I have lots of good things to say about her and she is my second favourite character.
Geoff won my heart. He is an old gentleman with a big but scarred heart, who has loved his family more than anything, and who fights to save a love he thinks he can’t live without.
In between are scattered love letters. Insightful, wise and painfully beautiful love letters. I remember wishing I had someone to write some for me. To put words on feelings that are unique but universal. This is what Anna Mansell reminded me. Love, in its different coats, is the most common feeling. It doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the strongest and amazing parts of our lives. It simply is at the heart of everyone’s existence, no matter if we want it or not! I really sound like a romantic, now, don’t I? Next, I’ll be reading Christmas novels!!!!
Or not. Because the reason why those human, authentic life stories move me in such a powerful way lies with the person who writes them. Anna Mansell has a magical wand, a realistic and heartbreaking style, like a water coming from the purest fountain. She expresses what I am too shy to do myself. She allows me to be the woman who hopes.
Helen tries to save her marriage. Geoff tries to save his and his wife’s lives. The letters save everyone.
You know the ‘happily ever after’ we are fed as kids? I never believed it. Life doesn’t stop sending you hell after your wedding day. Often, it’s just the beginning! So when Helen’s seemingly happy life explodes when her husband decides to leave, she has no clue what to do. Chapter after chapter, helped by those anonymous letters, she discovers a new way of looking at things. Are we aware of how we live, how we see things? When your partner hits a rough patch, what are you supposed to do? All those questions leave us hanging, helpless. I felt Helen’s confusion in my bones. Would I have done better? Could I be a good wife? What on earth does it even mean to be a good wife? You can’t lose who you are for a relationship. But you can’t eat away the space either. Gosh I’m glad I’m single!
I take this back. I’m not unhappy, but this novel showed me the most amazing love story I have read. Geoff and Connie, who grew old together until this nastiness that is dementia claimed his wife. Can you abandon the person you love? The one you promised to cherish? What becomes of your life when the woman who gives it sense doesn’t recognise you? I cried my heart out and used all the tissues in the house. My heart ached so much I doubled the sugar dose in my tea. With sensitivity, with subtlety, and most of all, with love, the author takes Geoff’s hand and leads him to the other side. What does it mean? Read the book to find out for yourself. All I can say is that the toughest hearts won’t resist.
What about poor Helen? You know I love blaming the husband. Yet, this time, I didn’t. Miracles happen. While the novel focused on Helen, each character is flesh and bones, blood and sweat, and you can’t help but explore all sides of what happens. I Wanted To Tell You isn’t about who is right and who is wrong. It is about the power of love, loss, and the strength it takes to stand up, or to give up.
There is a special place in my heart for everyone in this novel. Anna Mansell made my bladder burst with comfort tea, she made me smile and cry, sometimes at the same time. She tugged at my heartstrings.
I Wanted To Tell You is a love song for everyone who needs a real hard look at what we look for and isn’t afraid of tearing up the dressing to see what’s underneath. Each word speaks as much to your soul as it does your heart. This novel is life in a bottle. Intoxicatingly good, perfectly addictive, amazingly spot-on. A raw jewel! An emotional ode to life.
Do yourself a favour, get this novel!