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The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind (edition 2012)

by Jojo Moyes

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379None28,388 (4.03)11
Title:The Girl You Left Behind
Authors:Jojo Moyes
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (2012), Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

2013 (9) 2014 (4) Adult Fiction (2) architecture (3) art (22) chick lit (4) ebook (9) England (4) family (3) fiction (42) France (23) Germany (4) grief (6) historical (9) historical fiction (26) historical romance (2) history (2) Kindle (7) London (8) love (5) marriage (5) painting (7) read (3) read in 2013 (7) romance (15) to-read (29) war (4) wishlist (2) WWI (31) WWII (3)

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And as his hands reached the innermost part of my thighs, some treacherous part of me sparked into life, a warmth that was nothing to do with the fire. Some part of me divorced itself from my heart, and let slip its hunger for touch, for the weight of a body against my own. As his lips traced my skin, I shifted slightly, and out of nowhere a moan escaped my mouth. But the urgency of his response, the quickening of his breath on my face, quelled it as fast as it was born. My skirts were pushed up, my blouse pulled from my chest, and as I felt his mouth on my breast, I found myself turning, like some mythical figure, to stone.

Jojo Moyes The Girl You Left Behind, tells the dual struggles of Sophie, wife of French painter Edouard Lefevre, during the First World War; and Liv, a widow who lives like an impoverished princess in the glass house her late husband designed and built high atop a warehouse in modern-day London.

Sophie is courageous in the face of the German army that occupies her tiny French town, where she runs a restaurant with her timid sister and their starving children. Every day some new horror is visited upon them by the occupying army, but the greatest, the most immediate, is the never-ending hunger, which Moyes portrays with the vividness of an actual character.

In the present day story line Liv mourns her late husband, and battles the wealthy Lefevre family descendents, who want the painting of Sophie, known as The Girl You Left Behind, restored to them.

Sophie’s story is told in first person, past tense, and Liv’s in third person, present: a good call which works perfectly, lending Liv’s voice in the present an immediacy, and Sophie’s an historical feel. An avoidance of contractions makes the prose mildly stilted, at times, but despite that, the writing and word choices are very lively and entertaining. I like Moyes’ style: talented and crafty, she knows just how to manipulate the readers perceptions and feelings to best effect, and the writing is often surprising and fun. The characters have believable internal struggles; I especially liked this passage of Liv’s, for its subtle humor:


Paul does not attempt to push things further. She wonders briefly of she talks too much about David; whether somehow she has made herself off-limits. But then she thinks, almost indignantly, that David is part of who she is, and if Paul wants to be with her, well, he’ll have to accept that. She has several imaginary conversations with him and two imaginary arguments.

I’d had Moyes’ other novel, Me Before You, which I won on Goodreads, on my TBR pile for months, figuring I’d read it when I got to it. But I enjoyed this month’s She Reads selection so much that I read it right after finishing The Girl You Left Behind, and found I liked it just as much. ( )
  CynthiaRobertson | Apr 1, 2014 |
For another war story, this one was interesting. The story is told in two parts. First part during the First World war the second half in present day. After the first part, I had many unanswered questions but all were answered nicely in the second half ( )
  janismack | Mar 7, 2014 |
I listened to the audio book. I so disliked one of the two narrators that it is hard for me to know if my rating really reflects what I thought of the book or if it is reflective of my response to the narration. Probably 80% of what I read I listen to secondary to a disability that makes it hard for me to hold a book. When I listen to an audio book I want the story read to me, I am not looking for a dramatization. Good narrators deliver this. Essentially this story is told by two women and for the first character the narrator is so overdramatic that it was like nails on a chalkboard for me. I only stayed with it because I did not have another alternative and I had really enjoyed Moyes' other book. ( )
  zoomball | Mar 2, 2014 |
Liv Halston is still mourning the untimely death of her husband. An architect, he had designed their home, an innovative glass structure built on top of an older London building. Four years after his death, she is in serious financial difficulties. Although she can’t afford it, Liv simply can’t imagine giving up the home that David had put so much love and effort into. It is a minimalist house with clean, almost colorless lines that focuses on the light. The one vibrant item of color in the entire décor is a woman’s portrait. When Liv and David were on their honeymoon they came upon a woman who was trying to clear out her mother’s home. David bought a painting from her as a wedding gift for his wife. He insisted the portrait looked like Liv.
The book begins with the story of another woman. Sophie LeFevre has returned from Paris to the small town of St. Peronne to operate the family bar/cafe with her sister. She had left her hometown to work in a Paris department store. There she sold several scarves to the man she would eventually marry. He was Eduoard LeFevre, a painter who studied at the Academie Matisse. For a short time, they have a carefree life, with Eduoard creating his art and Sophie making sure that the buyers make timely payments. Then WWI begins and Eduoard becomes a soldier. Sophie returns to St. Peronne to operate Le Coq Rouge with her sister, Helene. Sophie’s only memento of her married life is a painting of herself done by Eduoard. When conditions become bleak in St. Peronne due to German occupation, Sophie decides to hang her portrait in the bar so there will be some spot of color and hope in her life.
Kommandant Becker, the commanding officer of the occupying Germans, asks that Sophie and Helene prepare an evening meal each night for his troops. The Germans provide the food that is to be cooked. These ingredients are much more plentiful than the rations that the locals receive. What a temptation for a starving village. The novel alternates between the stories of these two women. Approximately one hundred years later exactly what happened to the portrait of Sophie is a question that has an answer valued at several millions of dollars. What happens to a village during an enemy army occupation and how emotionally painful stolen art restoration can be make this an absorbing novel.
  dewittlib | Feb 7, 2014 |
When the story opens, Sophie Lefevre is trying to run a French household and her hotel/restaurant with her sister, Helene, after both of their husbands have gone to fight the Germans in 1916. Sophie's husband, Edouard, had been trained as an artist under Matisse before she met him in Paris, working as a shopgirl in a department store. The Germans become more intense in their demands from the villagers as the war progresses and eventually, the new Kommander insists that Sophie and Helene begin to provide meals for the troops in their hotel. As the Kommander gets to know Sophie, he asks more and more questions about her husband's work with Matisse and becomes obsessed with a painting Edouard made of Sophie, The Girl You Left Behind, which hangs on the hotel's wall. As Sophie becomes more concerned about her husband's well-being, her relationship with the Kommander becomes more complicated, leading the reader to have to wait to find out what happens to Sophie, when the Germans suddenly appear to take her away.

The novel then transitions to present day where a grieving widow, Liv, is trying to get on with her life after her famous architect husband passes away unexpectedly. Soon after Liv begins a new relationship with an American ex-police officer, she finds out that he is also an art investigator and by coincidence, had been put on a case to find the painting that was given to Liv by her husband, The Girl You Left Behind. The rest of the story follows what happens as Liv attempts to keep her painting, which Sophie's family contends was stolen from them during World War I. This historical novel shuttles back and forth in time to give the reader pieces of new information about what became of Sophie after the Germans came for her and what actually happened to the painting.

I was at first leary of where this novel was going as the situation with the Germans became more tenuous and Sophie was so vulnerable. However, I was happy to see the author was careful about the use of violence and ugliness in her novel, which was balanced with the romantic, artistic aspects of the story. I really loved this book and was as interested in Liv's story as I was Sophie's. Another great novel by Jojo Moyes, which I highly recommend! ( )
  voracious | Jan 23, 2014 |
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What happened to the girl you left behind?

France, 1916. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe whilst her adored husband Edouard fights at the front. When she is ordered to serve the German officers who descend on her hotel each evening, her home becomes riven by fierce tensions. And from the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie's portrait - painted by Edouard - a dangerous obsession is born, which will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision.

Almost a century later, and Sophie's portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before he died. A chance encounter reveals the painting's true worth, and its troubled history. A history that is about to resurface and turn Liv's life upside down all over again . . .

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for what they love most - whatever the cost.

If you can't wait for The Girl You Left Behind treat yourself to the prequel, Honeymoon in Paris, Jojo Moyes' irresistible ebook-only novella out now.
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Unwillingly rendered an object of obsession by the Kommandant occupying her small French town in World War I, Sophie risks everything to reunite with her husband a century before a widowed Liv tests her resolve to claim ownership of Sophie's portrait.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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