Book Tour Review: The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Title: The Heroes' Welcome
Author: Louisa Young
Genre: general fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 262
Published: May 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 3.5/5

The Heroes’ Welcome is the incandescent sequel to the bestselling R&J pick My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You. Its evocation of a time deeply wounded by the pain of WW1 will capture and beguile readers fresh to Louisa Young’s wonderful writing, and those previously enthralled by the stories of Nadine and Riley, Rose, Peter and Julia.


In a flurry of spring blossom, childhood sweethearts Nadine Waverney and Rilery Purefoy are married. Thos who have survived the war are, in a way, home. But Riley is wounded and disfigured; normality seems incomprehensible, and love unfathomable. Honeymooning in a battered, liberated Europe, they long for a marriage made of love and passion rather than dependence and pity.

At Locke Hill in Kent, Riley’s former CO Major Peter Locke is obsessed by Homer. His hysterical wife, Julia, and the young son they barely know attempt to navigate family life, but are confounded by the ghosts and memories of Peter’s war. Despite all this, there is the glimmer of a real future in the distance: Rose Locke, Peter’s cousin and Riley’s former nurse, finds that independence might be hers for the taking, after all.

For those who fought, those who healed and those who stayed behind, 1919 is a year of accepting realities, holding to hope and reaching after new beginnings.

The Heroes’ Welcome is a brave and brilliant evocation of a time deeply wounded by the pain of war. It is as devastating as it is inspiring.

 "If Peter were to die now, he'd be dying of the wounds. Whatever he died of, whenever he died, if he were to die in fifty years, it would be of wounds. Nothing bigger, greater, worse than that war would ever happen to any of them." -p.103

Though it's the second in an unnamed series by the author, The Heroes' Welcome made for an engrossing and dark read. I have not yet read the book's predecessor, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, but still easily managed to get caught up with these characters as they go through the fallout of World War I together (and apart). Louisa Young's look at life for soldiers and wives after the Great War is unflinching; occasionally uncomfortable but honest and real. It's an honest look at the past; one with clear parallels to today. It's not always a pretty read, but Young's sparse style works so well for the melancholic subject matter of her second novel. It's hard to put down.

The characters of the story are widely disparate in how they approach the changes they face in their lives during the course of the novel. Each individual grapples with the same main issue - the damage of WWI, be it mental or physical or emotional - in varied ways, with varied amounts of success. Young's storytelling is strong; reading Riley and his wife Nadine struggle to communicate over the most basic of issues engenders sympathy and empathy for the characters. While Peter's struggle is more volatile and emotional, he too is capable of being identifiable to the audience. PTSD is a serious issue and has been, especially after wars and conflicts, for a long, long time. Peter and Riley and Julia and Nadine each come to terms with things with their own, authentic methods.

The Heroes' Welcome is a dark novel from the start and remains so for its shorter length. In a way it reminded me a lot of Revolutionary Road -- same kind of bitterly honest tone, same kind of presenting a diverse POV to the lives of these unlikely people. It's more thoughtful than anything, however. There are no easy answers to be found here, but still remains a rewarding read. There's due to be a final book set with these characters. I think, after the conclusion of The Heroes' Welcome, there is  still plenty of room to further explore the stories of Rose and the others. I look forward to seeing with Young does with the series completion.


  1. Revolutionary Road is a good comparison: same sense of unerring approach towards disaster.

  2. I agree with CLM - I clearly remember the feeling of unease I had while watching Revolutionary Road, and I'm sure I'd get the same feeling from this book.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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