“[The Kommandant] held up the lamp, and it was dimly illuminated in pale gold light: the portrait Edouard had painted of me when we were first married. There I was, in that first year, my hair thick and lustrous around my shoulders, my skin clear and blooming, gazing out with the self-possession of the adored. I had brought it down from its hiding place several weeks before, telling my sister I was damned if the Germans would decide what I should look at in my own home.
He lifted the lamp a little higher so that he could see it more clearly. Do not put it there, Sophie, Helene had warned. It will invite trouble.”
Jojo Moyes, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND
What happened to the girl you left behind?
In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.
Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…
In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most – whatever the cost.
370 pages devoured in three days. That is my review of THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND in its simplest expression.
Truly, this dual period novel is one of the best I’ve read in this form in a long time. The tension in both the past and the present is often unbearable, and the characters are unique, flawed, and intensely likable. The stories are full of connections and surprises, and the weight of what is left unsaid brings tremendous power to the narrative.
The opening scene in occupied France during the first World War is a life or death moment of sheer terror, yet Moyes introduces a humorous surprise that brilliantly shows the traits of the characters and the depth of their bonds. The emotions are raw and immediate, and each time the book is cracked, the reader becomes immersed in the colorful lives of those inhabiting its pages.
Vast in scope, deep in development, engaging and startling at every turn, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND is a novel that will appeal to readers across genres. This is the first book I’ve read by Jojo Moyes, but it will not be the last. I give THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND my highest recommendation.