Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Girl You Left Behind - Jojo Moyes

Summary: What happened to the girl you left behind?
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...

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

Review: The Girl You Left Behind tells the story of a painting so powerful it changed the course of two very different women’s lives forever.

Sophie and her sister are managing the best they can under German occupation during The Great War. When a new Kommandant arrives, he overtakes the sisters’ restaurant for his men. In the restaurant hangs a sultry portrait of Sophie painted by her artist husband Edouard, who is fighting at the Front. The Kommandant is a student of art himself and admires the work of the painting—and perhaps the subject as well. As Sophie and the Kommandant speak of art and things beyond the happenings of the war, Sophie begins to seem him a man and even a friend. When Sophie learns that her husband has been captured and sent to a prison camp infamous for its wretched conditions, she decides to risk her tenuous bond with the Kommandant in hopes that he can help her husband return to her.

Flash forward to nearly a hundred years later, Liv Halston is a young widow coping with loneliness and financial distress in modern-day London. On a night out to drown her sorrows, she meets Paul Cafferty. Paul stirs something in Liv that she hasn’t felt in years and she decides to nurture this tender romance.

Paul Cafferty lives in London putting his former skills as a New York City detective to work tracking down works of art wrongfully taken from their owners during wars and restoring them to their rightful heirs. His most recent case involves a WWI-era painting. His jaded attitude takes a backseat when he falls for vulnerable Liv Halston, but that comes to a screeching halt when wakes up in Liv’s bedroom to see the the painting he's searching for, titled The Girl You Left Behind, hanging on his new girlfriend's wall.

Liv refuses to relinquish the painting that meant so much to her deceased husband, opting to have a showdown in court with Paul. She's convinced he knew all along and used her romantically. Paul wishes she could see how cheated he feels by these turn of events, but he knows there is no future for them anymore and must focus on doing his job. As he sees the media pulverize Liv and discovers moral ambiguities in his clients' motives, Paul finds himself digger deeper into what should be an open-and-shut case of property restoration hoping that there’s more to how the Kommandant acquired Sophie’s painting than what his case folder contains.

Though a century apart, two love stories hinge on the power of a beautiful painting—will that power destroy love or buy it a second chance?

Two highly intriguing love stories from two very different eras, but both with much at stake, converge in this riveting book by Jojo Moyes.

My rating: 5 stars

For the sensitive reader: An unpleasant scene of prostitution (though not highly graphic) is likely to make readers squirm. The book also contains some language, war-appropriate violence, attempted sexual assault, and a violent suicide.

1 comment:

Melissa McCurdy said...

Would this make a good book club choice?

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