The Girl You Left Behind
by Jojo Moyes
published by Pamela Dorman Books
I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley
I am reposting this, as She Reads has chosen this wonderful book as their October Book Club Selection.
In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.
Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…
In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most – whatever the cost.
I picked up Jojo Moye’s The Last Letter From Your Lover last year at the Charleston airport. Some 36 hours later, I was a huge fan of the author. I missed out reading her wildly popular Me Before You, so I jumped at the chance to read her new book when it was offered through Net Galley. This story is told in a dual narrative, following the stories of two women and one painting. The story begins in 1916 in the French town of St. Perrone that is occupied by German troops. Sophie Lefevre has returned from Paris to help her sister run their family hotel, while both their husbands are fighting on the front. Moyes paints a vivid picture of the hardships suffered by the town. While trying to survive, Sophie is forced to serve the german troops in her bar. The new German Kommandant takes an interest in a painting hanging in the bar that was done by Sophie’s artist husband Edouard. The painting The Girl You Left Behind, was of Sophie, and it it the one reminder Sophie has left of her beloved. The second story is intertwined and is set in present day London. Liv Halston is a widow still desperately mourning her husband David who passed away suddenly four years ago. She lives a small empty life, clinging to her pain. Her one consolation is the painting David bought her a s a wedding present called The Girl You Left Behind. When Sophie unexpectedly meets American Paul McCafferty, she finally allows herself to imagine her life beginning again.
Moyes takes us through the hardest times in the lives of these two very different women as well as the horrors of WWI in a masterful way. I don’t want to tell you too much of the story, since it unfolds in a wonderful way. I did prefer the parts with Sophie slightly over Liv’s, but probably because I am a sucker for well written historical fiction. I highly recommend this book, as I would The Last Letter From Your Lover. Moyes is a gifted author who I will look forward to reading in the future.
“I stood and gazed at her, and, for a few seconds, I remembered how it felt to be that girl, free of hunger, consumed only by idle thoughts of what private moments I might spend with Edouard. She reminded me that the world is capable of beauty, and that there were once things-art, joy, love-that filled my world, instead of fear and nettle soup and curfews. I saw him in my expression. And then I realized what I had just done. He had reminded me of my own strength, of how much I had left in me with which to fight.
When You return, Edouard, I swear I will once again be the girl you painted.”
4.5 out of 5
Please head over to She Reads to see more reviews of this wonderful book!