THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND as our October selection I was very excited. The reviews I'd read about her books were really great so I had high expectations.
About the Book:
This is the story of two women who are willing to do whatever it takes to fight for what is special to them. They are so similar yet separated by distance and time. The thing they have in common is a portrait painted in the early 1900's that, if possible, would tell an amazing story.
The book begins with Sophie, a French woman living in a German occupied village in 1916. Her husband Edouard, an artist, is on the front lines fighting in the war while Sophie tries to keep her family safe under harsh German rule.
The second part of the book takes place in 2006 and introduces Liv, a young English widow living in London still trying to come to terms with the loss of her husband even though its been four years since his death.
Like Sophie, Liv feels she is losing her grip on everything that is dear to her. She can barely afford the magnificent home her architect late husband built and she's facing the reality of having to sell it. The one thing that comforts her is the painting he bought for her ten years ago while on their honeymoon in Spain. The painting has become a living, breathing thing to Liv that she treasures more than anyone else possibly could. When she receives legal papers on behalf of the artist's family that the painting was part of stolen collection of art confiscated by the Germans during the war, Liv is determined to fight the suit. The more she learns of the painting and it's muse, the more determined Liv is to win at any cost.
This one was easy - I LOVED it! It was so beautifully told, especially Part 1 which was Sophie's story of enduring war-torn France and all the injustices to the French people. I liked how Jojo Moyes dedicated the entire first part of the book to that character and time period. When I began the second part, it was such a contrast, I almost felt I was reading a different book except for the common denominator - the painting. That painting brought the two stories together seamlessly. What I noticed right away when reading Liv's story was the drastic change in the writing. They were both spot-on and true to the time periods and people they represented. Moyes' storytelling talent is amazing. Even though you're pretty certain what's going to happen, its still a surprise when you read it.
I've discovered lately that I have a fondness for novels written about art and this book only made that more evident to me. I was taken in by the history of the painting and how it traveled over the years to finally end up with Liv in 1996. The painting became one of the main characters and I loved that about it.
The characters, both from the past and present, were so life-like and genuine. I even felt bad for the German Kommendant for the life he led in the German army. There really isn't much else for me to say. This is one of my favorite books this year and once again, I have She Reads Book Club to thank for introducing it to me. THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND is wonderful and I recommend it highly, especially if you enjoy historical fiction, art or just great literature.
GIVEAWAY!! The She Reads Book Club with the generosity of Pamela Dorman Books is giving away copies of 3 Jojo Moyes books to one lucky winner! For details and entry information, go to http://www.shereads.org/2013/10/october-book-club-selection-3/ Good luck to you!!
THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (Viking/Penguin)
Published: August 2013
Source: Publisher/She Reads Book Club