Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Title: The Girl You Left Behind
Author: Jojo Moyes
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Library Copy
This book would be rated: PG-13 to R for language, violence, and sex

 The Girl You Left Behind is actually two stories: first, there's Sophie, the wife of artist Edouard LeFevre, she's keeping the family tavern open in the French countryside in 1916 when it is taken over by the Germans. The Kommandant sees the painting of Sophie that Edouard painted before he left for the war, and he becomes entranced by her. Then there's the story of Liv Halston, a young widow whose late husband gave her the portrait of Sophie as a wedding gift. The problem? The LeFevre family, who never heard from Edouard or Sophie again after the war, want the valuable work returned to them.

I loved Jojo Moyes's novel Me Without You, and I was really excited to read this one, too. But the first hundred pages or so (the story of Sophie) weren't as engrossing as I hoped they would be. It seemed to be a fairly standard, depressing story of a young girl who is missing her husband during World War I and is willing to put herself in compromising situations if it might ensure his safety. However, Liv's story is fascinating. Both of the female characters are richly drawn, but I especially liked Liv's story of how the chance she might lose the painting forces her out of her four years of mourning and makes her fight to live again. I'm also pleased to say that there's a rewarding payoff with the Sophie character later in the novel. So be patient with this one-- it will be worth it.

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