The Girl You Left Behind begins in 1916 France when Sophie Lefevre is left by her husband, Edouard, to go and fight in the war. Not wanting to be alone, Sophie moves back to her hometown to live with her sister and brother in their family owned and operated hotel. Not long after her return home, her town is occupied by Germans and their hotel is commissioned to serve dinner to the soldiers every night. Hanging in the lobby of the hotel is a portrait of Sophie painted by Edouard. Against better judgement, Sophie refuses to remove the painting and insists that in remain on the walls as a reminder of her husband. The beautiful painting quickly catches the eye of the local German Kommandant and recognizing his fascination with her, Sophie risks her own life and the lives of her family in attempts to be reconciled with her husband.
Almost a century later, the painting of Sophie hangs on the wall in Liv’s home. The painting has become something that she truly cherishes, as it was given to her as a gift by her late husband. Nearly four years after his death, Liv is struggling to pay her mortgage and is knee deep in debt. One evening when in the pit of despair, Liv heads to a gay bar (in hopes that no one will bother her) to drink her sorrows away. While in a drunken state her purse is stolen and she receives assistance from Paul, an ex-cop, who now specializes in returning art that was stolen during wartime to its rightful owners.
The Girl You Left Behind is a dual-time narrative that tells the story of two women living in completely different worlds connected only by a painting.
Jojo Moyes has managed to capture me once again. In this novel, she beautifully tells the story of two women wanting to find love or love lost. She weaves historical fiction in with the present day and shows how stories of the past are truly important. Fans of historical fiction will not want to pass this one over.
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