Kate Lovegrove's Reviews > The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
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's review
Aug 25, 12

Read in August, 2012

Gosh, I really Do Not Do romantic fiction, but have to say that I was genuinely gripped by this book. I really enjoyed reading it and found myself inventing 'toilet trips' and 'need to go upstairs to do some tidying' excuses to get away from husband and three children to find five minutes to myself, to go read some more of it!!!

The novel is set in France, 1916, as well as in modern London - the main protagonists are for the French, Sophie Lefevre, trying in 1916 to keep her family together after her beloved (artist) husband Edouard is away fighting. And in the English corner and modern London, Liv Halston, a widowed young woman who has received via a circuitous route (which makes up a goodly part of the story), a portrait of Sophie, painted by Edouard before he left. We also meet Paul McCaffertey, a man who works to re-unite stolen art works with their original owners. It isn't too big a leap to guess that Liv and Paul's lives become entwined in a way which contains several really good twists and turns - certainly enough to keep me guessing for most of the novel.

Jumping back to the First World War, (the book does this a lot, but the jumps in time don't distract and in fact, leave you desparate to get back to the 'other' time to find out what's happening) the portrait of Sophie becomes a source of fascination for a German Kommandant who is in charge of the occupation of the village where Sophie lives. It is this obsession with her portrait which forces the hands of several people within the novel and which make up the story.

I absolutely loved this book. I was genuinely caught up in the story and found myself totally immersed in Sophie's story. I must admit that I found her a more sympathetic and complex character than Liv, who was actually quite irritating and teenagerish in her attitude towards Paul on more than one occasion. To develop a heroine who has a habit of 'storming out' after rows is a brave jump to take, but I concede that Moyes does it skilfully. However, I do feel that the book could have done with maybe one or two less twists at the end - once or twice I felt a bit 'oh come on, this is a tad contrived', but again, it is written so well and the story is genuinely SO interesting, that I was prepared to go with it.

What a great read - I just loved it. But I'll not be going back for more 'rom fiction' any time soon, I think I enjoyed the novel so much due to Moyes' skilful writing, rather than hoping that a gutsy heroine gets her man in the end. Still - thoroughly recommended. Fab!

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