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“This dual time narrative set alternatively in wartime France, and modern day London explores the history of an enigmatic painting which acts as a link between two very different women.
“I'll admit it - on reading the title I was sceptical about this book. Even reading the synopsis didn't really help. I felt like it was going to be vapid and maybe even fluffy. I am glad that I didn't let my prejudice get in the way, though, because from the minute I started this book I realised that it was far more than the cover would lead you to believe. The characters are strong and well rounded, the story is engaging and the increase in pace towards the end is such fun. The story is much darker than it would appear from the outside, with the historical narrative showing a time and place where life was grim and hard choices had to be made. This is no rose-tinted look into wartime life, and the book is much richer for that.
I read the book in one installment, and emerged smiling if a bit surpised to find myself sitting in the near dark. I enjoyed the progression and intertwining of the stories, the romance of the relationships and the satisfying conclusion. Ideal reading for a holiday, or bathtime, or any other time when you'll have peace to enjoy turning the pages. ”
“I have to say that, despite Jojo Moyes being a Richard and Judy favourite, I absolutely relish the chance of reading her books. They may not be top-notch literary gems.... but they have it all for me. Gripping plots, romance, stories that have endings, (I do so hate books and films that leave you in the middle. What a waste of time) I like the difficult situations she chooses to write about. This book is about WW1, a painting and the story around it - and then it jumps to the present day - and the painting which is now with Liv.... Well - just read it. Really good!”Barbara G wrote this review Sunday, February 17, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“just reading this at the moment and loving it!! so gripping and I want to find out what happens on both parts of the story! ”Laura Serafini wrote this review Friday, February 1, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is an interesting book, with the first half of the story being set in WW1 France. The story follows the cafe owner and her family during a period of German occupation. You get a sense of the daily struggle as well as the pressure to avoid becoming a 'collaberator'. You feel sympathy for Sophie and her dealing wiht the German officer who becomes attracted to her through a painting by her husband.
The second half of the story arrives in Mordern London, and follows a widow, whose last link with her husband is the painting of 'The Girl you Left behind'. she also faces a battle to hold onto this link through the challenge of the courts over the painting.
It is a well written tale of love, hate, struggle and determinatrion in various forms and although not a joyful read, is a thought provoking book,”
“Jojo Moyes has done it again. This latest novel just has to be a huge success, as big, if not bigger than her last, “You Before Me”. Perhaps so many tissues may not be required, but she has again run the full gamut of emotions. I first discovered this author when sent “Last Letter From Your Lover”, which I thought looked as if it would be girly and not my sort of thing. I was completely wrong and I was hooked. I have now read five of her novels and am one of her biggest fans.
I’m totally in awe of her ability to use a completely different historical time and geographical space each time and to take her reader there in a totally convincing fashion. Her research must be phenomenal and is combined with a masterly flair for story telling. Each novel takes a different serious theme and she weaves her tale around it .Her toughest subject has to be in her previous book, when she tackles euthanasia. But even the enchanting “Silver Bay” looked at the commercial exploitation of unspoilt beaches on the coast of Eastern Australia. This time the theme is the restoration of wartime looted works of art, the time elapsed since the event and the motives of the descendants of the original owners in fighting to regain them. The story is spun between two time zones, separated by nearly one hundred years and between two countries, France and Britain. And again we are treated to this author’s amazing ability to get inside her characters, to know what they would be thinking, what they would be feeling and to convey it very convincingly to her readers.
“The Girl You Left Behind” tells the story of two young women separated by a little over ninety years. We first meet Sophie Lefevre in October 1916, helping her sister to run the family hotel and bar in the small village of St Perrone in north eastern France, whilst the German’s occupied France during the First World War., a period that the author acknowledges is little recorded in this country. We are in a very bleak time of cold, hunger and cruel oppression by the occupying forces. Such is Jojo Moyes skill with words that I wasn’t entirely sorry, after a quarter of the book, to leave this setting and go to modern day London where we meet the other heroine, Liv Halston, Their lives are connected by a painting of Sophie, done by her husband, an up and coming impressionist painter of the school of Matisse, which will eventually be owned and treasured by Liv, having been bought for her by her husband. The title of the picture gives us the title of the book. Sophie has been left behind by her husband Edouard when he goes to fight the Germans and Liv is left behind when her husband David, unexpectedly, dies. Both young women are devastated by their loss.
In many aspects their lives are parallel, their direst moments being told in conjunction. Both have the love of their life taken away, one possibly temporally, one permanently. Liv needs to move on four years after her husband’s death, but uses, what she imagines, nearly one hundred years on, as Sophie’s values and feelings to justify holding back. After part one of the book we periodically drop back to France of 1917, by a series of letters and diary entries that come to light in our time. I have read many books where the device of interweaving strands from the past into the present has been used, but rarely as skilfully and with such effect as this one. The author’s words have the power to set us in the middle of a scene, to feel that we are really there, be it a modern court room in London or a village square in northern France a century earlier. You are taken step by step through the events and emotions that cause them to happen.
Jojo Moyes never seems to be tempted to return to the scene of a previous novel. She will be off to another period, and another region, inspired by a completely different issue. I can’t wait. I feel that this author could possibly just be beginning to pass beyond being a run of the mill entertaining read, with her questioning of moral issues and her meticulous research. She is one of the talented story tellers of light fiction around today, who seems at last to be receiving the acclaim that she so rightly deserves”
“I loved this book, I couldn't give it 5 stars because it is not in the same league as Me Before You but it was excellent, very touching but didn't take me on the roller coaster of emotions that MBY did but that would be an almost impossible act for an author to reenact. this book follows the story of two women, one from WW1 France and the other in the modern day in London, the WW1 storyline is wonderfully researched and enlightening, I knew almost nothing about that time despite having a fair knowlegde of WW2.”Katt wrote this review Monday, December 3, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A really interesting story that kept you gripped. I couldn't put it down.”Beverley C wrote this review Sunday, October 21, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I loved Jojo Moyes last book, Me Before You, and I couldnt wait to read The Girl You Left Behind when I was lucky enough to be sent it by Real Readers. It didnt disappoint.Part One of the story is set in France in 1916 telling the tale of Sophie Lefevre. Her husband, Edouard, an Artist, is fighting at the front. She and her sister, Helene, are ordered to serve the German officers at their hotel, Le Coq Rouge, every evening. The new Kommandant sees the painting of Sophie painted by her husband which hangs at the Hotel and falls in love with it. Events lead to Sophie making a difficult decision about the painting. Part Two of the story is set in London in 2006. This starts with the painting hanging in the bedroom of Liv Halston, a widow. Her former husband David gave it to her years ago and she has grown to love it. She meets Paul McCafferty on a chance encounter in his brothers bar. She learns to love again but she is dealt a cruel blow. Paul has been assigned by Edouard's decendents to find The Girl You Left Behind and return it back to the family, who only want it for what it is worth - a fortune. Paul is torn between his growing love for Liv and earning a living. This leads to a lengthy court battle by Live to retain ownership of the painting she loves. This is an amazing story and I loved it. Especially finding out the link between Liv in 2006 and Sophie Lefevre in 1916. I would definitely recommend it. It would be a great beach read.”sarah wrote this review Thursday, September 27, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book is all about a painting, but don’t let that put you off. The writing in this book is exquisite. I don’t use this word lightly, I dislike wordy, over descriptive writing, where the writing distracts from the story. Not so with this book, this is writing at its best with excellent use of the English language such as “cacophonous daylight”. The characters are very well drawn and realistic, you find yourself caring about what happens to them. I found myself being absorbed by the book, turning pages eager to discover what was going to happen next. Thinking about the characters even when I wasn’t reading the book. It is a book with twists and turns, a few surprises, one so shocking I actually cried out (luckily I was at home at the time!). The setting of two different time periods is well presented and it is very clear in which era you are. In fact when it turned to the 21st century and then went back to 1917 it was almost as if you were in a time machine, revisiting the familiar story you had left behind. The author created a dilemma for me over what the main 21st century character did regarding the painting, did I agree?, didn’t I?, it changed with each page. A fabulous story that I will remember for a long time to come.”Linby wrote this review Thursday, September 27, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Sophie Lefevre is living in German occupied France when she has to make a terrible choice to protect her family and keep the picture her husband painted of her, The Girl You Left Behind. Decades later the painting is discovered in the house of a young widow, Liv Halston. As the Lefevre family fight to get the painting back into their possession history unravels and the women’s lives intertwine.
A beautifully touching book, although the second part is a bit slow to get going. I’m sure all Jojo Moyes fans will love this book and will attract some new ones!