You Left Early

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Member Reviews

Trigger warning - alcohol abuse, addiction, death.
Raw, transcendent and beautiful, this novel about addiction and the effects of it on the people involved and in relationships the addict.  Trigger warning because it does deal with addiction and there were points that I found very hard to deal with myself, but still, a very worthwhile read, because it shifts societal expectation from blame to something beyond that, or could.
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This is an honestly written memoir about love and loss and alcoholism. It is raw and full of emotion and heartbreaking.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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I am a really quick reader, usually finishing at least a book a day, but this one slowed me down, i just couldn't read it too quickly, it was too much.  I had to take my time, really take it in, and often stare into space thinking about something I had just read.  It touched me that deeply.  It also made me smile when I least expected it.

"I was as tightly bound to him and his bandy legs and his bloody Chopin and his exquisite capacity to take the piss as I had ever been."

This is the story of writer Louisa Young’s on off relationship with composer Robert Lockhart, and their struggles with his addiction to alcohol.  Robert is brought to vivid life through these pages, both from Louisa's memories and Robert's own words from notebooks and rehab papers. While at times I wondered why on earth she stuck around, she would then share a little story or anecdote and it would make me realise that it was worth it, the eccentric, flawed but lovable Robert was worth it.

"I was fundamentally a person who liked safety over risk, and this was another reason for loving Robert. He was – or seemed – fearless. He pissed out of fourth-floor windows! He dropped his trousers to perform the opening bars of Beethoven’s fifth in naked buttock-pulses! He had no respect for, or even recognition of, times of day! He wasn’t scared to make a mess or to challenge a fool or to risk a friendship or upset a figure of authority. He delighted in it. Which of course made him a bloody liability."

Although this would be a good read for anyone, it was particularly poignant for me as I have personal experience of living with an alcoholic - well two, at the same time, but very different (as in one nice, one horrible) alcoholics.  Therefore, so much rang true for me.  At that time, I scoffed at the idea of alcoholism being a disease, but time, maturity and experience have changed that.  Reading this memoir made me wish I could go back and do things differently.

Louisa writes with great honesty, and has the ability to make you smile with an anecdote or even just a couple of words, despite the dire circumstances she is often relaying.  Her long on/off relationship with Robert is complicated, messy, frustrating, but at the end of the day, this is probably the most honest true love story I have ever read.  He sounds like he was an absolute hoot to be around, when he was sober.

"We were at a neighbour’s house eating fish pie. Robert, fearing there would be no gherkins, brought his own, loose in his coat pocket, and had the children fish them out, squeaky green and wet. He’d been thinking about a haircut: he invited the children to do it. Three deliriously happy six-year-olds, almost sick with excitement, clambered over him with scissors, snipping wildly and quickly in case someone made them stop. Robert sat statesmanly, quelling his own laughter, looking like Sid Vicious with extra bald patches and mock dignity. Easy to love."

So many anecdotes and stories are shared in these pages with searing honesty.  You feel her anger, her frustration, but overwhelmingly how she could never quite give up on Robert, no matter how hard it was, and even when for the sake of her sanity, and her child, there were breaks in their relationship.  

Louisa puts it so simply: "but reader, I loved him" - and by the last page, so did I.  And cried for him, and for Louisa.  Half way through this book, I googled him and listened to what there is on YouTube of his music, it made me really emotional, and really added another element to this reading experience - I recommend it.  

This is officially my most marked up book ever, there are so many things I need to remember or reread, that made me laugh, or which struck a particular chord, that almost every page is littered with highlights.  I am going to have to get myself a physical copy so I can highlight that too. I started another book this morning but had to put it down, I kept thinking about this one, I need to take my time moving on.

This is the most powerful, heart breaking memoir and story of addiction, but more importantly, love story I have ever read.  It will stay with me forever, and I have no doubt, will be read and referred to again and again.

I received an eArc from the publisher via Netgalley, but this review is entirely unbiased and the words are my own.
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I absolutely loved this. I'd read Louisa's fiction before and enjoyed it but this memoir is something else. The writing is incredible and the story is so moving. She handles a difficult subject with dexterity. I'll be pushing this into the hands of lots of people!
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What a powerful , heartbreaking, raw and brutally honest read. This is a very real honest book. It is not an easy read- there are part within the book that are so raw and real that it is difficult to read.
Lousia tells the story of the life she had/shared with her partner Robert Lockhart. 
Lousia gives the reader and very unsugar coated honest outlook of the effect that alcoholism has on every aspect of life and the lives of not on,y the alcoholic but also their family and friends.
It is a book that I found interesting and heartbreaking in equal measure.
It is so well written and honest which is a rare gift on times.
A must read
Thank you to both NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for my eARC in exchange for my honest unbiased review
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You Left Early is a memoir about love, grief and being the partner of someone who is addicted to alcohol.
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Having read Louisa Young’s unsentimental, very moving First World War novel ‘My Dear, I wanted to tell you’ and the follow-up ‘The Heroes’ Welcome’, I expected her memoir ‘You Left Early’ about her decades’ long relationship with the brilliant composer, Robert Lockhart, to be an unflinching examination of life with an alcoholic, and I was not wrong.
At times, the writing is almost too painful to read.  Young is extraordinarily honest about the ways in which alcohol slowly destroys the addict: physically, mentally, emotionally.  And not only the addict but also the addict’s loved ones.  In periods of sobriety Lockhart reflects on his damaged relationship with his son, his ex-wife, his father and his demanding and selfish behaviour towards Louisa.  He regrets this terribly; at heart the man is not a monster, though he does monstrous things.  Louisa Young also highlights the carer’s propensity to kid themselves that all is going well, that the truth is being told, that alcohol no longer occupies the ‘love of my life’ spot.
This memoir documents the wasted years unflinchingly.  Perhaps the reader feels particularly distressed because Lockhart and Young are two prodigiously gifted people who could have been so much happier had addiction not been their ever-present unwanted guest.  However, that is not to forget the less well-known thousands more who continue to live with this disease.  It robs the individual of their best self, their future possibilities, their fulfilling present, leaving only a foul-smelling past.  Beautifully written, thoughtful and honest, this is not a book to read quickly.  Too much at once hurts too much.  
My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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An extraordinary memoir chronicling the relationship between the author, her partner Robert.... and alcohol, which despite not directly causing his tragic death at the age of just 52 certainly was an overpowering presence in their 30 + year relationship.  Although not ro mantically onvolved for all of that period the love they had for each other is so evidently displayed throughout. 

This is a memoir overwhelmingly one of love and loss, and the loss felt throughout Roberts life as his life at times ravaged by the effects of severe alcoholism, and Young so often powerless to stop it. Quite possibly the most humanly devastating insight into the effect alcoholism has on the person the self but also the family, the friends and bystanders. 

Incredibly powerful, striking the perfect tone. A devastating essential book.
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A completely different genre from my usual thriller or mystery story. I was drawn to this book as I grew up with an alcoholic parent and was interested in this story. Wow. It was heart wrenching and terribly real. The author really opened up her heart and soul and completely laid bare for this book. Well worth a read.
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