Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Published August 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review
France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.
Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.
Last year, JoJo Moyes' Me Before You was one of the breakout hits of the year. I passed on it for review. Yeah, I know, still kicking myself for that one. Needless to say, I wasn't passing on this one.
The Girl You Left Behind is not just the name of a painting - it is Sophie whose husband has gone off war leaving her to take care of an entire village, it is Liv whose husband died leaving her filled with guilt and an emptiness she can't find a way to fill. Neither Sophie nor Liv will remain left behind; they are both stronger than they know. Sophie's tremendous courage and willingness to do whatever it takes to save her husband, Liv's incredible grief and inability to let go - Moyes made me care about what happened to these women.
It's not uncommon to use two different stories, set in two different time periods in one book. What is unusual is to have both stories carry equal weight, both in the story line and the emotional aspect of the story. Moyes does just that, fully immersing the reader in first Sophie's story and then Liv's before starting to move back and forth more frequently. Authors utilizing this story telling method often tie their two stories together by the most tenuous of threads or the connection does not become obvious until you are nearly done with the book. In The Girl You Left Behind, seven pages into the modern story line, the connection becomes clear and Sophie's story plays a prominent role in Liv's story. Never once did I find myself racing through one part just to get past it and on to the other story line - a rare thing indeed.
Moyes is a gifted storyteller, able to handle complex plots and create nuanced characters. I look forward to reading more of her work.
Posted by Lisa at 1:30 AM