Thursday, September 12, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left BehindWhat happened to the girl you left behind?

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.

- Goodreads synopsis

First off I would like to award this book with 4 stars.  It was a refreshing read that pulled me in right from the start.

I picked up this book because many of my fellow bloggers reviewed it and gave it a high rating, and while I didn't read the actual reviews (sorry guys) I figured that the majority couldn't be wrong. And they weren't as it was super enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone.

True to form, I didn't read the synopsis before starting, so once Part 2 started focusing on present day time I was very confused. Until I went to read the synopsis and understood that it was actually part of the story line.  Once that was settled I started reading it with more of an open mind and allowed myself to like the second part.

I really liked the 1916 story of Sophie and her place when Germany occupies their little French town. I just loved the way you got dragged into the war setting and got a feel for what it was actually like for when another country takes over. You lose your belongings, your food, your daily life- something I hope to never have to go through. I also enjoyed that it was about World War 1- a time piece that is usually forgotten in favour of the more popular war.   Basically Sophie's husband was sent to fight in the war- Sophie doesn't know his whereabouts, if he's a prisoner or what. The one thing that keeps her going is a picture that Eduard painted of her. This picture is so enchanting that it captures the eye of the Kommandant. The Kommandant moves his troops into Sophie's bar/hotel making Sophie and her sister cook feats for them. (how cruel is that, you are starving and have to cook a full meal). However, an unlikely friendship blossoms. I use the word friendship loosely- acquaintance would be better suited.  Because of this, Sophie would offer to do anything to get the Kommandant to allow her to see her husband again, or at least get news of him.

Then part 2 comes.

Liz is a widow living in a spectacular glass house that her late husband built. The one thing she covets the most in this house is a painting; The Girl You Left Behind (the painting of Sophie- if you aren't following along) which her husband had bought her on their honeymoon.  Liz finally gets out of her depressed mood and meets Paul.  Paul is fantastic. Except for his job.  The painting becomes a focus in a legal battle, that essentially puts a strain on their new found relationship.

I felt that the modern day story between Liz and Paul dragged on sometimes. I wanted the story to be more focused on The Girl You Left Behind- Sophie. I kept wanting it to switch gears back to it. And every once in a while Jojo did grant me that wish, splattering happenings of Sophie back into the narrative.Despite that it was still a great read.  Both females end up fighting for the one thing that they love the most no matter what the cost.  This was the first book I read of Jojo Moyes, and I am now in the process of collecting her other books. She writes in such a way entices you and enchants you.

(Received in exchange for an honest review)

"I never knew real happiness until you.” 
"Nobody listens any more. Everyone knows what they want to hear, but nobody actually listens.” 

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book but thought that although Paul was doing his job he acted like a bit of a prig - I preferred Sophie' s story too. Great review.