Rating: 3 Stars
Published: September 2012
Genre: Adult Fiction // Historical Fiction // Contemporary
“Do you know how it feels to resign yourself to your fate? It is almost welcome. There was to be no more pain, no more fear, no more longing. It is the death of hope that comes as the greatest relief.”
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. Summary taken from Goodreads.
WWI France is strikingly similar to WWII Nazi Occupied France. The only difference is the words used to describe Germans. (Granted, this is just the observation I have made by reading historical fiction– not a statement based on historical fact.)
I was drawn into the world of Sophie & Helene but it wasn’t original. I suppose it’s difficult to put a new spin on topics like this.
“Nobody fights you like your own sister; nobody else knows the most vulnerable parts of you and will aim for them without mercy.”
The storyline gets more interesting when Liv & the other contemporary characters are introduced. The idea of stolen artwork being returned to its original family is fascinating. However, if you want a more in depth look at that– The Woman in Gold is a great example.
The media bits were thrown in to make a point about bias. But I think it would have been even more interesting if there was more of a focus on it. Journalism is a fascinating focus, especially when you’re trying to write a story that someone hasn’t written before. But the media parts were brushed over and it wasn’t explored further, which is a shame.
I like that our main character is Liv who feels so strongly for the painting of Sophie but is the one in possession of the piece allegedly illegally. I like seeing her side of things because as far as the painting goes for her, she bought it fair & square on her honeymoon. Speaking of honeymoon, I was so sick of Sophie talking about David. I know he’s dead and it was tragic, I get it. But there’s now Paul…
I have zero opinions of Paul. He’s bland–so are the rest of the characters. They should be vibrant & full of life but I found them lacking. Dry toast, that’s what they all are. In all fairness, I do lot Paul a lot more than the memory of David. I thought he was nice at first but then when everything turned to shit he couldn’t hold his own– for the majority of the story anyway.
“But we’re terribly proud of you, you know.”
“For what?” she says, blowing her nose. “I failed, Dad. Most people think I shouldn’t have even tried.”
Her father pulls her to him. He smells of red wine and a part of her life that seems a million years ago. “Just for carrying on, really. Sometimes, my darling girl, that’s heroic in itself.”
There are too many characters and I don’t care about any of them. The story lines aren’t bad– they make for good reading but the characters fell flat. And for me, that’s a huge drawback. Both story lines are rich with detail and it’s easy to picture. However, I feel like it was too drawn out. I was committed to finishing the story but annoyed at how long it was taking. I would have cut some scenes, personally. In any case, I liked the ending. I think it might have been a tad unrealistic but hey, that’s fiction.
“It’s never too early for wine. Nectar of the gods. My one consolation.”
“Your life is one long consolation.”
There’s a novella called Honeymoon in Paris included in the paperback about David & Liv but I couldn’t be bothered to read it. If it was about Live & Paul, that would have been a different story. (Hah! Get it?)
So far nothing has been as good as Me Before You. I think they’re entertaining enough but the stories don’t stay with me like Lou & Will do. I don’t know why Jojo and I are just not getting along. By all accounts, I should enjoy her books. I’m not giving up (which may seem silly).
What do you think about Jojo Moyes? How you fallen in love with her books or are you remaining distant like I am?