The Girl You Left Behind {Book review}

girl

Published Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Author: Jojo Moyes
Pages:384
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance

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 – Summary from Goodreads

*sigh* This book. It should come with the warning, “WILL MAKE YOU HAVE THE FEELS!”

The Girl You Left Behind is a brilliant tale of war, love, loss and hope. Moyes begins this tale in Occupied France, 1916. WWI has brought Germans into a small village called St. Peronne, where Sophie Lefevre and her family are struggling to keep their hotel/restaurant operating and to keep themselves alive. Over time, German soldiers commandeer Sophie’s hotel, using it as their primary dining headquarters. During this period, their Kommandant develops a liking for a painting of Sophie {named The Girl You Left Behind}, painted by Sophie’s husband Edouard {who has been off fighting in the war for 2 years now}. The Kommandant’s interests quickly switch to Sophie herself, and it becomes clear to everyone that he is becoming infatuated with her. Sophie, believing she’s doing the right thing, decides to use her painting {her most beloved possession} and her new-found favor with the powerful German Commander as a bargaining chip. Things do not go as she has planned.

Flash forward 100 years, we meet Liv Halston. She’s a freelance copy writer living in London. Her home dubbed The Glass House was built by her late husband. It’s a modernists dream home: all glass and concrete and cold. The only warm thing in the house, besides Liv, is a painting her husband had given her as a wedding gift. The Girl You Left Behind hangs in her bedroom, a constant reminder of her love for her husband. To her, it’s the most important thing left in her life. And someone is about to threaten to take it away. *sigh* Poor Liv!!

The Girl You Left Behind {both the painting and the novel} is shrouded in mystery and will leave you guessing until the last page. Actually, scratch that, until the last word!! Moyes has written such a moving and achingly beautiful novel. The characters she created feel so real. At one point, I googled them… to make sure, you know, they didn’t actually exist {they don’t, btdub}. I felt all kinds of emotions {guilt, anger, apprehension, happiness, sadness} and yes, I cried. {I know one of you is thinking, “You?? Cry?? Noooo”} This novel gets a solid 4 out of 5 stars from moi. So SO good. I want this to be a movie so I can see this story come to life.

So, if you love historical fiction, love and mystery, then this is the book for you!!

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