Beverly Diehl's Reviews > The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
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's review
Sep 07, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: contemporary-womens-fiction, historical-fiction, war, romance, family

Occupied France, during WWI, Sophie Lefevre and her sister struggle to feed their children and maintain Le Coq Rouge, the family restaurant, while their husbands are away at war. Enter a new Kommandant, who greatly admires a painting of Sophie by her artist husband. And, perhaps, admires Sophie herself.

The first part of the novel is set in small town France, with flashbacks to Sophie and Eduoard's courtship in Paris, and the painting of "The Girl You Left Behind," which depicts a sensual, provocative Sophie very different from the thin, worried wife and mother.

When the novel abruptly jumped to London, modern day (or close enough, 2006), and widowed Liv Halston, the current owner of the painting, I was confused. How did SHE end up with it? And that confusion, and the question of the provenance of valuable pieces of art, is the heart of this novel.

The novel causes the reader to question what is right, who should the painting belong to - and what happened to Sophie and Eduoard? There were many twists and turns I didn't see coming, and I even felt sorry for the Kommandant and others who were supposed to be the bad guys.

War is an ugly business, where decent people are compelled to commit horrific acts. A compelling and riveting read, and despite deep pain, there was also much hope.
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