Nancy's Reviews > The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
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Jul 31, 2013

really liked it

My new historical fiction interest is WWI.

The book begins in a small village in France that is currently occupied by the German army. All communications have been severed and the story features Sophie, the middle child of three (older sister, Helene and Aurelian, teenage brother). A new Kommandant has arrived. He is more intelligent than the former Kommandant who was brutal and cruel without reason. This Kommandant seems to possess more humanity and perhaps some compassion. Both Sophie and Helene's husbands are fighting in the war and are away. They try to keep their little restaurant afloat alone. It is in this restaurant that the Kommandant sees the painting that Sophie's husband rendered in the manner of Mattise. The Kommandant is enamored with the painting thus by Sophie.

Herein lies the conflict. Both parties are bound to be enemies of one another. They each have their parts to play and feel uncomfortable stepping out of their roles hence rarely do so. The story abruptly seems to end at a point where it is unclear whether or not they have come to an agreement or not. The agreement would free Sophie's husband but the price is questionable.

Next story is about Liv, a widow living in a home she can no longer afford. Her husband's legacy to her is a beautiful portrait that hangs on her wall in a bedroom. It is the portrait of Sophie that Liv's husband bought on a street in Barcelona on their honeymoon. It was headed to the dumpster. Liv is right on the cusp of re-entering life when the story begins. It's been four years since her husband died and she meets Paul who, unbeknownst to Liv, has recently been tasked with finding a certain painting and returning it to its rightful owners who claim it was taken from their family as a spoil of war. Paul and Liv hit it off and all is moving forward until Paul sees the painting.

Herein lies the conflict. Both parties are bound to be enemies of one another. One believes he is fighting for what is right and good by returning what was stolen during a war a hundred years before. They other believes the painting rightfully belongs to her as she has sentimental ties to it regarding her husband. Neither budge on their stances and the case is eventually taken to court.

The two stories mirror each other in a subtle manner. The reader must carefully watch the similarities but the end result of the first story has a direct impact on the end result of the second story.

Skillfully written and beautifully executed.
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Reading Progress

December 10, 2012 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
Started Reading
July 31, 2013 – Shelved
July 31, 2013 – Finished Reading

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