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Summary

This brutal, beautiful memoir from award-winning novelist Louisa Young is a heartbreaking portrayal of love, grief and the merciless grip of addiction.

Louisa first met Robert Lockhart when they were both 17. Their stop-start romance lasted decades, in which time he became a celebrated composer and she an acclaimed novelist. Always snapping at their heels was Robert’s alcoholism, a helpless, ferocious dependency that affected his personality before crippling and finally, despite five years of hard-won sobriety, killing him.

There are a million love stories and a million stories of addiction. This one is truly transcendent. It is at once a compelling portrait of a unique and charismatic man, a bittersweet reflection on an all-consuming love affair and a completely honest and incredibly affecting guide to how the partner of an alcoholic can possibly survive when the disease rips both their lives apart.

This is a hugely important book. Raw and unflinching but also uplifting and elegiac, it should be essential listening for anybody who’s ever lost someone they loved.

©2018 Louisa Young (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Spectacular. I can’t stop thinking about it. Louisa Young is a beautiful, beautiful writer and there is great courage and love in the way she addresses her subject. It’s the portrait of a man and his times and his illness told with love but also with an unflinching honesty that feels like a great gift to the reader." (Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love)

"Oh my God, it’s so beautiful, and heartbreaking, and true." (Sam Baker, The Pool)

What listeners say about You Left Early

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A masterpiece.

This extraordinary book should be read by anyone living with or alongside alcohol addiction. It is so searingly frank, brave and patently honest, that the pain and effort to write it must have been tremendous. I can only hope the Author has found it, now published and well received, a cathartic and healing experience. As with her other writing, she expresses herself in a scholarly and detailed manner, but with great emotional input. I cannot express strongly enough how listening to Louisa Young read her book makes her love and devotion to Robert Lockhart a truly inspiring read. One is left bereft by the overall sense of 'what might have been'.


5 people found this helpful

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Stunning and heartbreaking

This book is one of the greats. Never have I experienced a more raw and honest reflection of love and loss.
My new ability to both laugh and cry on the busy morning commute is truly in the hands of Louisa Young.

5 people found this helpful

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Flat voice

The introduction is so depressed read by the author in a flat voice I went no further. I’m sure it’s a dark storyline that is worth, but the tone is suicidal.

4 people found this helpful

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Heart wrenchingly

Agonising and brilliant, made me cry often, but in the next breath lifted me up again; SO beautifully written and narrated. It felt like a privilege to have been allowed a glimpse into Robert and Louisa's story, special and forever memorable.
😖😎💕

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Brave, beautiful...

I cried buckets when Robert died. Thank you Louisa for sharing. Grounding, thought provoking, fascinating. Wonderful love story and heartbreaking tale about addiction.

5 people found this helpful

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Utterly captivating

What an emotional rollercoaster I have endured, listening to Louisa's beautiful voice reading her witty, tragic story of her unconditional love for her gifted yet defiant and invincible fiance. I lost count of the number of lumps in my throat or my incredulity of Robert's stupidity at times. This book plumbs the depths of addiction, lifts you up and takes you down.I spluttered with laughter at some of the conversations between them - clever quips yet tinged with happiness and sadness in equal measure. The recollection of diary entries makes it so very personal.
Extremely well written and beautifully narrated. More please !

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Heartbreaking tale of love an addiction.

This is a heart rendering tale of love between two ‘soul mates’ and the third entity in the relationship- alcohol.
Louisa Young’s prose is beautiful (as anyone who has read any of her other books might expect ) and desperately sad at times, though shot through with moments of absurd joy.
This is an excellent portrayal of what it is like to love with addiction and ultimately what it is to be in love with someone who loves something else more.
I don’t love Young’s narration- but she doesn’t make too bad a fist of it.
A fantastic book , well worth a credit.

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Beautifully Tragic

A very moving and heart felt story of a gradual process of self destruction.

The view of Louisa is one of a fly on the wall as well as someone who is completely immersed in this painful journey.

Louisas use of humour and strength is a amazing ability, with this combination she tells her story quite magnificently.

Thought provoking and vert touching.

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Loved !

I found this book very heartfelt and interesting ....funny and yet poignant. Really good read .

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Thoroughly enjoyed the story

Written beautifully, felt as though I knew them both. Related to many parts. Really enjoyed it

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-12-18

tragically insightful

I can't describe it as entertaining. It is a young woman's charitable recounting of a prolonged life experience excruciating to live through and horrific to imagine in the reader's mind.

1 person found this helpful