Louise Blackah's Reviews > The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
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's review
Sep 06, 2012

it was amazing
Read in September, 2012

What do you do when you have a painting that is dear to you; reminding you of your husband and someone wants to take it away? Do you fight the inevitable despite the cost? Or give in gracefully?

Jojo Moyes has the ability to move the reader between the decades, introducing us first to Sophie Lefevre, who is struggling to maintain her small family hotel and family against the demands of the German occupation during WWI. I was totally pulled into the lives of Sophie and the rest of the villagers and despite the German order for Sophie to cater for the German officers each evening, I found that Moyes brought the human side of the Kommandant out, thus ensuring sympathy for the occupying force.

The Kommandant is taken by a picture painted of Sophie by her husband, Edouard, admiring it greatly and we are transported back in time to when Sophie first met Edouard and when the likeness was painted. Such a precious time, and a precious painting that reminded her of her husband. What could Sophie do to try and influence the German to help her husband?

We fast forward to the present and the topical subject of returning items that were stolen, primarily during WWII, by the Germans. Paul works for a company that helps to track down and return the items to the family's descendants. He is tasked with tracking down a painting of a beautiful woman, lost, presumed stolen, during WWI.

Liv is a young widow, having lost her husband suddenly. She takes comfort from his work and also from a painting that he bought for her on their honeymoon. It not only reminds her of him, but to a certain extent of herself. A definitive link to her husband and their short time together, she would never let her go.

How bitter-sweet then, that the fates throw Paul and Liv together at a time when Liv is beginning to think that there may be someone else out there for her. The attraction between the two is palpable, however after a night together he sees the painting that he has been searching for. How can he tell her? How can he not pursue this? Do the descendents really want the painting, or do they want the money it will bring? How can Liv, already in debt afford a court case?

This story pulled me in from the beginning, I walked alongside Sophie as she catered for the Germans with dignity, and I understood her need to try and help her husband despite the cost. I desperately wanted Liv to win the court case, especially as she travelled so far to find out the true story of Sophie and the two women were linked across the miles. Would Sophie win the court case or have to give up The Girl You Left Behind and be bankrupted? Would she ever speak to Paul again and whatever did happen to Sophie Lefevre and her husband? A gripping read, knowledgable and accurate throughout. I shall be reading more of Jojo Moyes.

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