Title: The Girl You Left Behind
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Romance
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Penguin, Pamela Dorman Books, Aug. 20, 2013
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Sexy Rating: 5 (not explicit)
Description from amazon.com:
France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.
Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.
Jojo Moyes does it again, an absolutely stunning book. The book see-saws between the early, war torn twentieth century France and one hundred years later to today in London, England. What links the two eras is a painting and , not unlike some other books I have read about the art world, the obsessive nature and power a painting has on the lives of its owners.
The romances in this book are powerful but they tend to take a back seat to the story. And what a story, not so much romance but a story of love. Jojo Moyes kept me riveted to the book to find out what had become of Edouard the artist, Sophie his wife, Herr Kommandant the German officer, Liv the modern day owner of the painting and Paul her lover. Those were the major players in this novel but side characters were also pivotal to the plot and so very well characterized.
If you are looking for a superbly constructed plot and wonderful prose, look no further. This book illuminates the personal devastation that war brings and the legacy of that devastation. It also illuminates the absolute power of hope, love and endurance.