The Girl You Left Behind
By: Jojo Moyes
reviewed by Jamin
The Girl You Left Behind is a timeless love story that connects present and past in a tale of love and war. This book is actually a complete random choice and I was totally cynical in reading it as the book tackles about love and historical events. But as soon as I started flipping through the pages emotions slowly building until I realized that I found another tear-jerker! Once again Jojo Moyes proved her deserving spot in the industry; this novel is a heart-warming, tear-jerking compelling book and it is a highly recommended novel to read.
A story began somewhere in the northern part of France, a small town named Le Coq Rouge in St. Peronne, there was a woman named Sophie Lefevre’. She came home from Paris to manage their inherited hotel and to be with her sister Helene and brother Aurelien. Sophie was the source of strength of not just her family but all the people in her hometown. As the battle continues between France and Germany, Sophie struggles to keep her sanity intact. Rations of food were lessened, Spanish Influenza invaded towns after towns that eventually killed many people’s lives and above all the longingness for those loved ones sent to fight was overpowering. As she dreamed for luscious food every night she also dreamed for her husband Edouard lefevre’, secretly praying that he will keep his promise to come home from war and sit in a local cafe’ together.
Few weeks after she arrived from Paris, she decided to bring out a portrait painted by her husband, a painting that was inked on the back of the frame. Despite the disapproval of her sister, Sophie hanged it in a corner visible to the people who go to their hotel. The gift reminds her of Edouard but also captured the local Herr Kommandant’s heart. As France fall into Germans hands Sophie and her sister was forced to work with their enemy by cooking dinner meals for German soldiers. Every night they come to their hotel to eat until one night German Kommandant saw the portrait that changed her entire life forever.
photos downloaded (St.Peronne, France)
“It was never about the painting, Sophie.”
And there it was, confirmation of my fate.
90 years later.
“She looks like you.
She looks nothing like me.
She had laughed at him giddily, still flush with new love. Still prepared to believe in his vision of her.
You look just like that when you –
The Girl You Left Behind smiles.”
By the age of twenty eight, Liv halston is already a widower. David’s sudden death left her living alone in their glass house and although her friends envied her for living in a sophisticated glass house that appears in different interior magazines, Liv conceals emptiness. Life without him made it difficult to live by. Bills are piling up; bank notices being sent in her doorstep and a struggle to find a better job as a copy writer overwhelmed her. Above all things, she misses him every single day and the only thing that connects her to him was David’s wedding gift to her. It was everything for her, it holds the happy memories she had with him. She remembers David telling her that when she smiles she looks like the girl in the painting, the smile of the The Girl You Left Behind.
It was beyond her knowledge that the painting has unresolved past that will create chaos in her life, even her personal affair with Paul McCafferty. She met Paul in an unexpected place and that first meeting forms unexpected feelings. She feels alive again when he’s around until she realized what kind of threat Paul may bring.
I recommend this book to those who wants to explore knowledge about Civil war while enjoying the mind-boggling love story of Sophie and Edouard. They had the right love at the wrong time, that’s what Barry Manilow said in his song Somewhere Down The Road. If this book will be a movie I want Keira Knightly and Jude Law to portray; I think they will be perfect match in the movie screen.