Ksenia's Reviews > The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
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"All that really matters is who you love."

I finished this book a while ago. Life went on; I started reading other books, but The Girl You Left Behind doesn’t want to let me go. It lingers and I have flashbacks to some scenes or phrases from the book. It’s so wonderful! It was a long time since a book made such a lasting impression on me.

The Girl You Left Behind is two stories in one. The first story set in France, 1916. Sophie lives in a small town under occupation. Her husband Edouard went off to war and one of very few things that she has of him is his portrait of her. The second story set in England, 2006. It is Liv’s story. Her husband, a talented architect, died four years ago. She continues to grieve, and the only thing that keeps her going on is the portrait of a young girl, which her husband gifted her on their honeymoon. When the heirs claimed that the portrait was stolen during WWI, Sophie refuses to let it go without a fight. As confrontation escalates and facts about portrait’s past revealed it began to threaten Liv’s hopes for new love and happy life.

About first 30 % of the book is Sophie’s story and then we abruptly thrown into Liv’s life. I was so shocked and frustrated. I was invested in Sophie’s story, and I wanted to know what happened to her. So it took me a while to connect with Liv. At first I thought that this was all I’ve had of Sophie and I would only see glimpses of her in letters, newspapers, and memoirs; and I was really angry, because Sophie became a real person to me. Fortunately this wasn’t the case here. There were more of Sophie’s POV weaved in Liv’s story. Actually there were more time jumps than that, because Sophie’s parts were interrupted by her memories about her husband. Though it was at times frustrating I think this structure of the book made a perfect sense. It reflects the atmosphere in which people lived during the WWI. Person didn’t know what would happen tomorrow. He could be abruptly torn away from his familiar life and his loved ones, his future unknown.

So, back to Liv’s story. As I’ve said before, at first it was difficult to connect with her. But it’s the kind of story that sneaks up on you. One moment I was annoyed and frustrated because I wanted to know what happened to Sophie, the next I’m consumed by Liv’s grieve and loneliness. The author made such an amazing job here. Liv’s loneliness was such a palpable thing, it broke my heart.

When Liv’s story started I thought that it can’t be as emotional as Sophie’s story, that I wouldn’t be so invested in Liv’s life as I was with Sophie. After all what are all our contemporary mundane problems contrary to the problems of people during WWI? I should’ve known better. Jojo Moyes made me feel, made me cry and I became so immerse in Liv’s story that at some point Sophie’s chapters became interruptions.

And I loved the romance between Liv and Paul. There was something in their relationship that squeezed my heart and wouldn’t let me go. Was it their tenderness and hope or heartbreaking revelation what they are to each other, their longing and broken hearts, their desperation, their love, strength and faith? I don’t know. I just know that I wouldn’t forget this romance for a long time.

Despite my love for Liv, my heart belongs to Sophie. It was like I was with her on every step of her heartbreaking journey. She is such a strong and purposeful heroine. There was one scene that nearly broke me (view spoiler). And another one left me in despair and anger (view spoiler).

"Do you know how it feels to resign yourself to your fate? It is almost welcome. There was to be no more pain, no more fear, no more longing. It is the death of hope that comes as the greatest relief."

We don’t really know Edouard. At the beginning of the book he had already gone to the front, so we only see glimpses of him in Sophie’s memories. But Jojo Moyes wrote these short chapters amazing, Edouard became a real man and their romance with Sophie was beautiful. It made me felt her loneliness, longing and desperation even more.

When we hear the word “war” we often picture explosions, injured soldiers and think about their courage and self-sacrifice. But how often do we think about the women they left behind? Women which lived in occupation, which also made sacrifices. This wonderful book brings light to this side of the war.

Sophie and Liv had more in common than just the portrait. Both women kept going on because of their absolute faith in what they were doing. In Sophie’s case she believed that she will be with her husband again no matter what happened, and Liv was willing to risk everything to save the portrait.

"Sometimes life is a series of obstacles, a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes… it is simply a matter of blind faith."

The Girl You Left Behind is a heartbreaking story about love and loss and hope. Now I can’t wait to read another book by Jojo Moyes and lost myself in her characters and their life.

You can find my reviews: Ksenia's blog SomethingDelicate.com

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Reading Progress

March 27, 2015 – Shelved
March 29, 2015 –
10.0% "Is it too early to say that I love this book?"
Started Reading
April 1, 2015 – Finished Reading
April 3, 2015 –
30.0% "The scene where Sophie brought the portrait to the Kommandant nearly broke me."
April 4, 2015 –
40.0% "Jojo Moyes, you are so cruel. To make a cliffhanger within the book?"

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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message 1: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ Look forward to your review, Ksenia! :)


Ksenia ♥Rachel♥ wrote: "Look forward to your review, Ksenia! :)"

Hi Rachel! I loved this book, and it's difficult to express my feelings in review, but I will try.


message 3: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ I totally know the feeling, Ksenia! It makes writing a review so hard. I'm sure you'll nail it, though. :)


Ksenia ♥Rachel♥ wrote: "I totally know the feeling, Ksenia! It makes writing a review so hard. I'm sure you'll nail it, though. :)"

Thanks, Rachel!


message 5: by Brandi (new) - added it

Brandi Wonderful review, Ksenia! Thanks for the invite :)


Ksenia Brandi wrote: "Wonderful review, Ksenia! Thanks for the invite :)"

Thank you, Brandi! Looking forward to chat with you.


Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister What a stunning review, Ksenia! So glad you enjoyed. I'm sort of a baby when it comes to books like these, but I've heard the rest of this author's work is just as beautiful. Have fun! :)


Ksenia Kristin (KC) wrote: "What a stunning review, Ksenia! So glad you enjoyed. I'm sort of a baby when it comes to books like these, but I've heard the rest of this author's work is just as beautiful. Have fun! :)"

Thank you, Kristin! It was my second book by Jojo Moyes, and I’m really looking forward to read her other works.


Lady Vigilante (Feifei) I wish I could like your review 10 times Ksenia! So beautifully written, and this part especially grabbed me --> When we hear the word “war” we often picture explosions, injured soldiers and think about their courage and self-sacrifice. But how often do we think about the women they left behind? Women which lived in occupation, which also made sacrifices. ♥ ♥


Ksenia Lady Vigilante (Feifei) wrote: "I wish I could like your review 10 times Ksenia! So beautifully written, and this part especially grabbed me --> When we hear the word “war” we often picture explosions, injured soldiers and think ..."

Awww… thank you so much, Feifei. I know you hate time jumps but this book was so good.


Lady Vigilante (Feifei) Ksenia wrote: "Lady Vigilante (Feifei) wrote: "I wish I could like your review 10 times Ksenia! So beautifully written, and this part especially grabbed me --> When we hear the word “war” we often picture explosi..."

If done well, I sometimes do love books that have a lot of time jumps. I'll see if I can find this in my library :)


message 12: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Wonderful review Ksenia! I love Jojo Moyes. I'll have to check this one out soon.


message 13: by Jeanne (last edited Apr 17, 2015 03:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeanne Lovely review Ksenia! Did you read Honeymoon in Paris? Those spoilers! The first one caused me to not sleep, it was so intense. Glad you loved it:))


Ksenia Arlene wrote: "Wonderful review Ksenia! I love Jojo Moyes. I'll have to check this one out soon."

Thank you, Arlene! I hope you will love it.


Ksenia Jeanne wrote: "Lovely review Ksenia! Did you read Honeymoon in Paris? Those spoilers! The first one caused me to not sleep, it was so intense. Glad you loved it:))"

Thank you, Jeanne! I haven’t read Honeymoon in Paris. Do you recommend reading it after The Girl You Left Behind? Is it good only as a prequel?


message 16: by Thomas (new) - added it

Thomas Wonderful review, Ksenia! I have only read Me Before You but it seems that many of Jojo Moyes's books have landed in people's hearts. Your review and your ability to appreciate both protagonists despite the somewhat abrupt transition ups this book on my to-read list for sure.


Ksenia Thomas wrote: "Wonderful review, Ksenia! I have only read Me Before You but it seems that many of Jojo Moyes's books have landed in people's hearts. Your review and your ability to appreciate both protagonists de..."

Thank you Tomas! I hope you would like this book if you decided to read it.


message 18: by Amy | Foxy Blogs (new)

Amy | Foxy Blogs great review ♥
sounds very intriguing.


Ksenia Amy (Foxy) wrote: "great review ♥
sounds very intriguing."


Thank you, Amy! I loved this book.


Maida»-(¯`v´¯)-» Fab review, Ksenia! Glad you loved this one. It sounds so emotional and I love that this had such concrete characters. I'm totally intrigued by this now. Adding to my TBR! :D xo


Ksenia Maida»-(¯`v´¯)-» wrote: "Fab review, Ksenia! Glad you loved this one. It sounds so emotional and I love that this had such concrete characters. I'm totally intrigued by this now. Adding to my TBR! :D xo"

Thank you, Maida! I hope you will like it.


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