The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Summary: 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.
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 . . .
This was my first of Jojo Moyes' novels and, having heard good things, I was excited to finally check out this author. The book alternates between past and present telling the story of Sophie Lefevre living during the first world war in France and Liv Halston living is present day London.
Having reading this book I can say for certain that I'll be reading more by this author! I was hooked from the very first page. Moyes' writing is absolutely captivating and had me completely engrossed in Sophie's world from the beginning. I could picture myself in her French village and could practically smell the food Sophie and her sister cook up in the kitchen of their bar Le Coq Rouge or the bread coming from the bakery.
The characters in this book were a huge draw for me. Sophie was someone I could instantly sympathise with and really felt for. She faces some difficult decisions and her life is turned upside down by the consequences of those decisions, but all the time I felt myself rooting for her and understanding her.
The story centres around a painting which is central to Sophie's life and also appears in the lives of our present day characters, copywriter Liv Halston and her new acquaintance Paul. I loved how the two parts of the story, so drastically different, complemented each other so well. It never felt jarring flicking between the past and present, and each story was so compelling in different ways. I found myself longing to be with both sets of characters!
I loved that Sophie's story kept me hooked with the wartime drama and tragedy, and yet at the same time I could enjoy the contemporary side to Liv's story. The present day side of the book was just as gripping, and sort of reminded me of a Jodi Picoult novel (she's one of my favourite authors so I say this as a complement) as there was a courtroom drama to keep me hooked throughout.
Great characters, wonderful writing and touching drama made this book an absolute winner for me and definitely one I'll be recommending! I read in the space of a day or two as every spare bit of time I had was spent immersed in the story, and once I started reading I just couldn't put it down!