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The Girl You Left Behind: A Novel Paperback – June 24, 2014
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Moyes (Me before You, 2012) writes with such clarity that one can almost see the eponymous 100-year-old painting at the center of her wonderful new novel. Also crystal clear are the emotions that protagonist Liv Halston attaches to the portrait. Gifted to Liv by her late husband, David, in celebration of their wedding, The Girl You Left Behind becomes a personal icon, embodying all that was good about their brief marriage. What is less clear is the painting’s provenance and who has the right to assert ownership. Will Liv’s notion of ownership unravel when the artist’s heirs sue to reclaim what they call ill-gotten goods, seemingly misappropriated by German soldiers during WWI? Did the artist’s wife—the subject of the portrait—give or sell it? Can anyone establish a clear trail of legitimate ownership? Does emotional attachment to a work of art have cash value? Can love ever trump greed? At its heart, such questions, thrumming in the background, add depth to what is an uncommonly good love story. --Donna Chavez --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Praise for THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND:
"Vibrant and gripping.”
—People Magazine (***)
"Jojo Moyes expertly weaves a bittersweet tale in this irresistible novel, taking careful interest in the dark corners that exist within great love stories, and the trickiness of simple happy endings. A-"
“Moyes writes delicious plots, with characters so clearly imagined they leap off the pages in high-definition prose. . . . Clever plot turns make for a satisfying ending . . . Moyes brings fresh strokes to this story about the power of art and love to transcend what imprisons us. Romantics looking for a story set amid the politics of plundered art couldn't do much better than The Girl You Left Behind.”
—USA Today (3 1/2 stars)
"Jojo Moyes builds on her strengths in this moving and accomplished new novel. As she did in the best-selling Me Before You, she asks readers to think in fresh ways about a morally complex issue. . . . The Girl You Left Behind is strong, provocative, satisfying fiction."
—The Washington Post
"'In this moving paean to daring, determination and perspicacity, Moyes keeps the reader guessing down to the last hankie."
—Los Angeles Times
—New York Daily News
"In her latest heart tugger, Jojo Moyes deftly weaves the story of newlyweds in WWI France with that of a young widow in today’s London."
"Lovely and wry, Moyes’s newest is captivating and bittersweet."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Moyes (Me Before You) has created a riveting depiction of a wartime occupation that has mostly faded from memory. Liv and Sophie are so real in their faults, passion, and bravery that the reader is swept along right to the end. This one is hard to put down!"
—Library Journal (starred review)
"Moyes (Me Before You, 2012) writes with such clarity that one can almost see the eponymous 100-year-old painting at the center of her wonderful new novel. . . . an uncommonly good love story."
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This book is narrated by two different women at different points in time. The first part of the novel takes place during WWI and tells the story of Sophie LeFevre, who owns and helps run a bar/cafe in a small town outside of Paris. The town has been taken over by Germans and the locals have all suffered from deprivation and oppression at the hands of their captors.
Sophie and her sister Helene are both concerned about their husbands who are French soldiers and possibly in a prison camp or worse. Sophie's husband is a talented and fairly well-known artist named Eduoard, and Sophie's most prized possession is the portrait he did of her shortly after they first met. She has it prominently displayed on the bar wall. When the German Kommandant sees the portrait, he becomes enthralled with it and with Sophie as well. What will happen to Sophie and her family and to their town if the Germans don't leave? And what will Sophie do in order to save her husband and see him again?
The story then moves to the present times and we meet Olivia (Liv) Halston, a woman who's been in a state of depression and grief since the death of her young husband 4 years earlier. Liv is struggling financially and emotionally but things seem to take a turn for the better when she becomes attracted to a man named Paul McCafferty. Paul works for an agency that tries to give priceless paintings stolen by the Nazi's back to their original owners, and when he spots Sophie's portrait in Liv's home, he feels he must take action.
I really enjoyed the WWI parts of this book, which pretty much make up the majority of the first half. I thought this part of the book was stellar and I loved reading about Sophie and the descriptions of her life and of the conditions during the occupation were vivid and educational.
My problem came when we come to the present day. As believable as I found Sophie and the decisions she had to make - I had the opposite reactions to Liv. I didn't buy into her character and found myself often annoyed rolling my eyes at her actions and thoughts. I don't necessarily have to like the characters to like a book, but I think we were supposed to like Liv and at times I just didn't. I also had trouble buying into the relationship between her and Paul.
My biggest problem, and this is without giving away any spoilers, is that I don't like books that try to wrap up all the loose ends with a bow. I thought the book could've had a stronger impact without this and I thought there were way too many coincidences and convenient twists along the way.
So this was a mixed bag for me; I loved the WWI bits but was frustrated by the present-day storyline.
The second half is set in present day and is about that same painting coming into the hands of a couple on their honeymoon and the subsequent battle to keep it when stolen war treasures are being returned to their rightful owners.
The story is told through the eyes of two strong, passionate women who want to fight for what they believe is their right to love and keep.
I could not put this lovely heart stirring book down . A great read full of emotions.
But in the moment I star reading it, I couldn't let it go
And when Liv, gets in the picture it confuse me and it intrigue me , I thought maybe Sophie reincarnate , but no, it was other amazing story of a modern woman that is connected of the way she sees the painting with a first war brave person: Sophie
It's a very touching story of love, bravery and fighting of what you care no Mather that the word is against it
What a descriptive, wonderful story! The characterization is so well attached to the story that you feel you know the central and other characters personally. That you too will walk the paths, suffer the cold, go hungry and silently avoid any confrontation with your captors.
Then to experience the occupation during WW1 of a small village in France is so personal, you as the reader become so involved, it doesn't seem possible that you didn't live among those people and suffer with them, and occasionally triumph silently with them against the tragedy of being held as prisoners in their own homes while German soldiers exercise the indignities and the cruel acts committed by representatives of the victorious country they represent.
The book is one that you can't put down.
The story is tragic, filled with hope, buried with hate, and in the end victorious in a manner that is completely unexpected.
Don't miss this one!
I have always had some sympathy for the families that had artworks & other treasures purloined by the Germans during the war, but this story made me equally sympathetic to those who end up with such treasures through genuine & honest means. The twist at the end was unexpected - The Girl You Left Behind ended up with the right person!