Thursday, 12 June 2014
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Historical Fiction (WWI)
Source: Public Library
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
First Published: September 27, 2012
First Line: "October 1916 - I was dreaming of food."
Book Description from GoodReads: 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.
My Review: I read Moyes huge hit Me Before You back in January 2013 and I absolutely loved it. I actually gave it one of my rare 5/5 stars for the emotional rollercoaster that it put me on. So I went into this book very eager to read another book by this author and I will admit that the story surrounding art stolen by the Germans in WWI was the other reason that I had to pick up this book.
This book is told using two different points of view in two different eras. Sophie tells her story of living in her small French town during WWI and Liv's modern-day story is set in London with a piece of art connecting the two. I loved learning more about occupied France in WWI. Seeing the day-to-day life of these small town French people and how they had to live alongside the Germans was very poignant. It was an interesting era and there were a couple of dynamic characters, namely Sophie.
Unfortunately I cannot say that Liv's modern-day part of the story affected me in the same way as Sophie's. The only character I truly connected with in Liv's storyline was her quirky friend, Mo who was the only character who felt honest and believable. Everyone else seemed flat - especially Liv who came off as too self absorbed. I guess I just didn't 'get' Liz. Her character was one-dimensional and I couldn't whole-heartedly get behind her determination to keep the painting at all costs. The romance aspect was also a little too convenient to be believable.
I was very torn about this book and had, perhaps, overly high expectations after loving "Me Before You" so much. While the writing is good, the characters and storyline (specifically the modern-day London storyline) just didn't grab me. I found the ending too predictable with all of the loose ends tied up too neatly.
While this book may not be my favourite I would still classify it as a good escapist read. But if you want to see Moyes at her finest please read her 'Me Before You' which was truly stellar.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars