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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'.


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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.

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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.

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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I have sort of been there

I am divorced from an alcoholic. Although alcohol hasn’t killed him yet the story Louise so beautifully tells rings too true. I am a grateful member of Al Anon and hear similar tales. To anyone struggling please seek help, there are many of us who understand. Thank you Louise

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Beautiful listen.

I listened to this and it moved me.. no wasted words, simply written with, for me so many many moments I paused the audio to contemplate. A vigilant and brutally questioning human heart story that I was sad to finish.. Yet felt enriched by.

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Poignant, and brilliant

When it came to “how many stars” I thought, this is not a story, this is one woman’s account of her fight for her love. This is brilliant Louisa.
You have not only put into words your struggle, but you have made all of us who have read or listened Realise this is a real struggle for very many people, and I will in future be able to understand the very real struggle some people have with alcohol. Thank you very much for a truly poignant and brilliant book

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intrigued

Absolutely loved every minute of this book... I am an alcoholic in recovery and this book drew me in from the beginning... Louise is an amazing author and narrator I could completely visualise they're love for each other... Robert seemed a completely colourful character in every way in alcoholism and sobriety.. They both were so lucky to have shared each other.. Thank you Louisa for this book

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Hard to hear???

Does anyone find this audio book hard to actually hear what’s being said? I think this sounds like a fabulous story but unless I have my volume on my blue tooth speaker I miss half of it?!! My other books are way more clear 😳

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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.

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  • Lisa H
  • 28-07-22

Deeply moving

I was gripped from the beginning and while I don’t understand this kind of deep love of a flawed partner, I am so grateful that I haven’t had to experience this. This book is deeply moving and I couldn’t stop listening. I feel the author was so brave to make a life outside of this person but still loving him so deeply, she kept being drawn back to him. So many feelings but most of all, a respect for the author. Thank you for this sharing.