Book Club: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
World War 1. A wife awaiting her husbands return. A stunning photo. German Occupation. A desperate desire to save the one she loves. 2006. A widow frozen in time and grief. A stunning photo. The battle for the truth. A desperate desire to protect and preserve. The Girl You Left Behind dives deep into the lives of two women: Sophie Lefevre, the wife of a painter who's husband is fighting in World War 1 and Liv Halston, the widow of a great architect.
A portrait of Sophie Lefevre hangs in her family's hotel, painted by her husband Edouard, it is one of the only things in Sophie's life that brings her joy during the German Occupation. It isn't until the Kommandant sees the portrait that Sophie feels unsure of her decision to hang the painting.
Sophie is forced to serve meals and entertain the German soldiers in her hotel. During this time, she strikes an unlikely friendship with the Kommandant over art and the memory of the finer things in life. When news reaches Sophie about her husband's whereabouts, Sophie decides to offer herself and her beloved portrait to the Kommandant in exchange for Edouard's life. Is this how the portrait ends up in German possession?
Fast forward almost a full decade and the portrait hangs in the stunning home of Liv Halston. A gift from their honeymoon and the reminder of her late husband, Liv is deeply attached to the portrait. Through a mix of unfortunate events, Liv finds out that her painting is worth much more than she could ever imagine. However, fighting for the painting may mean losing everything: her home, her husband's reputation and the charity he built. Will the man hired to bring the painting home be the one to save her?
What I thought:
I picked this book up on a whim. I hadn't heard of Jojo Moyer before and thought that a WWI era romance novel would be a good pick me up. I was very impressed with my draw to Sophie and my desire for justice for Liv. I had a difficult time putting my Kindle down as I dove deeper into the heroines' stories. I wanted to know what happened to Sophie after she made her deal with the Kommandant. I was desperate to know how Liv's story ended.
I finished the book in less than a week. The way the book ends leaves you feeling content and hopeful. I stayed up until 12:30 am (my bed time is religously 9:00 pm) to finish the book, and I found myself wanting to wake up my husband and tell him how thankful I was for him and how much I love him.
My Favorite Character:
My favorite character in The Girl You Left Behind is Paul McCafferty. Paul works for an art recovery organization that works with families who lost precious valuables in World War II. While the portrait of Sophie was created prior to WWI, there is speculation that the photo was stolen and kept in German possession during WWII. Paul desires to help families heal from the pain of WWII by providing closure and helping descendants reunite with family heirlooms.
Paul and Liv meet in a series of off-chance events on the anniversary of David's death. Liv and Paul realize that there is a connection that cannot be denied. However, their love story is cut short when Paul sees the portrait of Sophie hanging in Liv's home. His struggle to protect Liv and to do his job is deep and gut wrenching. What I appreciate about Paul is his desire to protect Liv through the turbulence of court hearings.
I would rate this book a four star book. The plot will keep you engaged and have you cheering for the heroines. You can purchase the book through Amazon.com in paperback or kindle format.
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