Title: The Girl You Left Behind
Author: Jojo Moyes
Source: from publisher for SheReads book club
Review Summary: This book was so well written and so intriguing that I couldn’t put it down, even at the end of Dewey’s 24 hour read-a-thon.
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… (from Goodreads)
Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind was a perfect book club choice. Both protagonists are complex women forced to make some very thought-provoking decisions. As with the last book club selection, I wasn’t always sure what I thought the protagonists should do. I think this is one way in which to be a truly brilliant writer. If a character is having a hard time making a decision and I want to shake her because the right choice is so obvious, that’s just frustrating. When an author like Jojo manages to make me uncertain as well, the story seems more real and the characters become much more relatable.
Despite starting reading around 3 or 4 in the morning, I constantly wanted to know what the characters were going to do and what was going to happen next. The details of both the WWI and the modern day settings were so vivid, I was drawn right in. Some of the scenes, including the opening, are so dramatic and so fun that I immediately started imagining them happening in a movie. Although I loved both Sophie and Liv, Sophie was by far my favorite. She’s brave, intelligent, and captivating. The description of her experience of the resistance movement in France was very well done, with a fascinating look at both the good and the bad of how people treated each other. And finding out the surprising ending of her story… Well, lets just say it was well worth the wait.