Monday, October 14, 2013

The Girl You Left Behind by Jo Jo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind by Jo Jo Moyes: Sophie LeFevre's husband, Edouard, is fighting for France at the front of World War I; Sophie has been left behind in the small town of St. Peronne which has been occupied by the Germans. A Kommandant is taken by Sophie and the painting the artist  Edouard had made of her which hangs in her home and reminds her of life before the War. When that painting surfaces almost one hundred years later in the home of Liv Halston, an international scandal erupts and thrusts everyone into the limelight. Although long since deceased, Sophie also takes center stage and her story is told.

 Liv Halston was given the painting "The Girl You Left Behind" by her husband, David. When he dies suddenly, Liv is left as a young widow and she clutches everything that connects her to her late husband. She lives in the fantastic "Glass House" that was custom built by David, an architect. Each feature in the home reminds her of David, his brilliance and what she has lost. "The Girl You Left Behind" also reminds her of happy times with David and she develops a connection with its subject, Sophie. When the LeFevre family engages the services of a firm to recover the painting missing from Edouard's collection, they contact Liv and inform her she is in possession of a painting that was illegitimately obtained during the War. The family wants restitution but Liv cannot let go of one of her last connections to David - or to Sophie.

My Thoughts
I found this book completely engrossing. It is told alternately from Sophie and then Liv's point of view and I think the movement between contemporary and historical fiction was well balanced and served to keep the story moving. The author successfully creates two very sypathetic characters in Sophie and Liv - they are both dealing with tremendous grief and loss but they are also complicated and don't always make predictable, stereotypical choices. They are linked by the painting and they both hold on to it in an effort to connect to what they have lost.

The story extends much beyond just Liv and Sophie - each of their storylines are filled with interesting characters and subplots to make this a multilayered novel which pulls you in. In addition, there is the controversy over works of art with questionable provenace and what the current owners owe the descendants of the true owners. All of this together makes for a story I won't soon forget.

I received an e-ARC via netgalley. Shereads.org is currently offering a giveaway for a book bundle from the author - enter here


15 comments:

  1. I loved Jojo's last book, Me Before You, and am looking forward to reading this one too. She just captures the reader so well with her words.

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  2. I loved Me Before You so I'm really looking forward to this book!

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  3. This sounds so good! I've still got the audio of Me Before You waiting, but am adding this to my wish list anyway.

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  4. I've heard nothing but good things about this book. I really can't wait to read it!

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  5. Engrossing and unforgettable? Yay! I loved Me Before You so much. Can't wait to read this one.

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  6. Yep...another one I can't wait to read.

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  7. Hi Colleen, enjoyed your review. Would you like to add this one to the Books You Loved collection over at Carole's Chatter? Hope you are having a good week. I have to admit mine is not that great - have an eye issue which is taking some time to recover. Cheers

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  8. What a great review. I can't wait to read this one -- I'm going to suggest it for my book club next year!

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  9. That does sound good! The painting with a past seems to be a new trend in books.

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  10. I have not read this author yet but after reading so many great reviews for her books, I have them all on my must read list!

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  11. I really found myself enjoying both stories in this one which isn't often the case when books switch back and forth in time and story. I can't say that I understood why Liv was so adamant to keep the painting but I liked her story anyway.

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  12. Good to hear this one is engrossing too. I loved Me Before You. I must get this one. cheers http://www.thecuecard.com/

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  13. Glad to hear that you loved this book. I couldn't read much of Me Before You but this one sounds pretty good.

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  14. I couldn't put this down either! All of the secondary characters and subplots gave this a lot of depth and wanting to find out what happened to Sophie kept me constantly engaged in the story :)

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