The Girl You Left Behind:

by Jojo Moyes

Paperback, 2014

Call number




Penguin Books (2014), Edition: Reprint, 464 pages


Unwillingly rendered an object of obsession by the Kommandant occupying her small French town in World War I, Sophie risks everything to reunite with her husband a century before a widowed Liv tests her resolve to claim ownership of Sophie's portrait.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Gingersnap000
After reading Me Before You, I had the strong desire to read another of Ms. Moyes's novels. Although The Girl You Left Behind is a completely different genre than Me Before You, I enjoyed it even more than MBY. My favorite genre of books is Historical Fiction and the story within the novel gave me
Show More
a look into War World I through the eyes of a wife of a painter who is off fighting for France.

Sophia, the artist wife, is the subject of the painting of The Girl You Left Behind and this reader felt her pain and the emotional pain of the present owner in the 21st Century in this tragic story of love. The story is endearing and will stay in my memory for a long time.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DoingDewey
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
Show More
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… (from Goodreads)

Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind was a perfect book club choice. Both protagonists are complex women forced to make some very thought-provoking decisions. As with the last book club selection, I wasn’t always sure what I thought the protagonists should do. I think this is one way in which to be a truly brilliant writer. If a character is having a hard time making a decision and I want to shake her because the right choice is so obvious, that’s just frustrating. When an author like Jojo manages to make me uncertain as well, the story seems more real and the characters become much more relatable.

Despite starting reading around 3 or 4 in the morning, I constantly wanted to know what the characters were going to do and what was going to happen next. The details of both the WWI and the modern day settings were so vivid, I was drawn right in. Some of the scenes, including the opening, are so dramatic and so fun that I immediately started imagining them happening in a movie. Although I loved both Sophie and Liv, Sophie was by far my favorite. She’s brave, intelligent, and captivating. The description of her experience of the resistance movement in France was very well done, with a fascinating look at both the good and the bad of how people treated each other. And finding out the surprising ending of her story… Well, lets just say it was well worth the wait.

This review first published on Doing Dewey
Show Less
LibraryThing member haymaai
Only on rare occasions, am I left reflecting at the end of a novel, feeling so gratified that I can hardly wait to give it five stars. Jojo Moyes’ book, the Girl You Left Behind, is just such a novel. It is a magnificent, turbulent story about a young woman, Sophie LeFevre, who awaits the return
Show More
of her beloved husband, who has gone off to fight in World War I. When the Germans occupy her town, and Sophie catches the eye of Kommandant Freiderich Hencken (the enemy), Sophie risks everything to reunite with her missing husband, Edouard, a former artist from the Matisse Academy in Paris. Sophie, being the subject of a provocative painting created by Edouard, transcends time to the present day through this incredible work of art. Nearly a hundred years later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston from her architect husband, shortly before his untimely death. The portrait then becomes the center of controversy in an embroiled court battle to see who will possess the illustrious painting. I loved the parallels between Sophie and Liv, as both women encountered embittered hardships and obstacles in their lives, to which they met with incredible courage. I also loved the unpredictability of the story, which seemed to take various twists and turns along the way. Even at the conclusion, one wonders about the final resolution, as the author suggests that a more pleasing outcome might just be possible.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Yogiboo
Surprisingly good and addictive. I finished this in one day because I was intrigued to see what would happen next. To be honest I wasn't too keen from the beginning but this book gets under your skin. I was expecting this to be a forbidden love story between Sophie and the Kommandent but it wasn't,
Show More
I am glad it wasn't predictable in that case. Interesting read. Mo was a great character!
Show Less
LibraryThing member jakesam
I loved this book, It was one of those books that you do not want to put down. Jojo goes between now days and 1916 France with out a hitch.
so well written.
LibraryThing member dpappas
She reminded me that the world is capable of beauty, and that there were once things-art, joy, love-that filled my world, instead of fear and nettle soup and curfews.

This book was really right up my alley. I've read many books that follow a woman from the past and a woman from the present that I
Show More
have enjoyed. This book follows that same pattern and I really enjoyed it. I haven't read much WWI historical fiction so while this book was similar to books that I have previously read it also was something new to me.

I was interested in both Sophie and Liv's stories. Sometimes I find myself more interested in the woman from the past but that was not the case with this book. Both women experience heartbreak and go through changes because of their heartbreak. I, like Liv, was dying to know what happened to Sophie. I loved that while the women were quite different they were also very similar.

I loved what happened in the end. I was a bit wary towards the end because it looked like it was going towards a situation that I knew I wouldn't like. I really look forward to reading more from Jojo Moyes.
Show Less
LibraryThing member lisa.isselee
This book really left me thinking when i finished it. A world war is never a fun thing to read about but this really pulled you in. This book had me clinging to every page to see what was going to happen next.
Fantastic book !
LibraryThing member pife43
A great read that drew me in quickly and kept me engaged thru to the end. This is yet another story of life during the world war years, but this one not only revealed a exciting and passionate tale, but was as honest and candid as possible about how the war affected the wives, children and
Show More
neighbors during the German occupatio of France. The characters were presented in a very detailed and realistic way, yet the story was detailed and convoluted as well. The author created saitsfying connections with several characters and told the story in two different generations and locations and distilled it into a novel that could be read in a relatively short time. This ability to tell a story clearly, present living and caring characters, and keep me interested every step of the way is a talent that I have noted a few times at most.
The story was nightmarish, passionate, tender, humble and very, very real, very much like life itself is when 50 years are summed up. But how to convey all of that without needing 1500 pages is the impressive talent that the author clearly exhibited.
I finished this book in 1/2 the time it normally takes me to finish, and I only finish 1 out of 5 books to begin with.
Much appreciated and enjoyed!
Show Less
LibraryThing member EmmaBTate
Another triumph from Jojo Moyes, a really sad but ultimately uplifting book. Her characters are so believable straightaway, and the links between the two time periods work really well without being spelt out to you. I wish I could create characters like this!
LibraryThing member nyiper
I loved this book! I love the way Moyes writes. This is the third novel of hers that I've read since March and they all amaze me for the way she can weave a story so that you get to throughly appreciate the characters because you know them so well, thanks to her all encompassing descriptions of
Show More
them. I would just like to keep reading her books right now so I'm already hoping that she is nearly finished with another one and already thinking about the one after that! Thank goodness I have just found one of her earlier novels and will see how that compares to this one, fingers crossed---but she just keeps getting better and better.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Emma_Jane_Russell
The Girl You Left Behind – Jojo Moyes
Publishing date:27th September 2012
Publisher: Penguin.

4 stars
This is a compelling novel, the tale of two women separated by a century but united in their resolution to fight for what they love and believe in.
It wasn’t what I expected, usually steering clear
Show More
of war-time novels. However I am so glad I reviewed this. There is nothing better than being pulled into a story, an alternative reality, breathing alongside the characters, emotions rising and falling with the rise and fall of their fortunes. Jojo Moyes does this extremely well and I now want to read all her other books.
I enjoyed the contrasting tales, war torn France, modern day London. I was enthralled by the detective work which kept me guessing until the end. The characters were well drawn, the descriptions authentic, the language rich and neatly written. No superfluous gunk here. I really couldn’t put this book down. The message left in my mind was that across time and nationality, possessions are meaningless. Life is nothing without love and family.
Show Less
LibraryThing member AdonisGuilfoyle
This is my hundredth book read in 2012, so I'm glad, in an obsessive compulsive round-number way, that such a wonderful book should move me into treble figures. Found via a review in a glossy magazine, the blurb tempted me into downloading the ebook there and then. And I wasn't disappointed.
Show More
History, romance, humour and a satisfying - if unbelievable - ending, all in one story. I haven't put my Kindle down all weekend.

In 1917, Sophie LeFevre is living with her sister and family in northern France, helping to run the hotel where she was born. Sophie's husband Edouard, a talented artist, is away at war, along with her sister's husband. The part of France where they live is under German occupation, and when a new enemy officer requisitions the hotel for his troops, Sophie has no choice but to comply. Her neighbours grumble and start rumours about the special preferences shown to Bessette family at Le Coq Rouge, but Sophie knows where she stands - until the officer starts to show more than a passing interest in a portrait of Sophie painted by her husband, and then in Sophie herself. Labelled as a collaborator, Sophie turns to the German officer with a dangerous plea for help. But what became of Sophie, 'the girl you left behind'? Nearly one hundred years later, a young widow holds the answer to half of the puzzle - a portrait of a vibrant young woman, bought by her late husband as a wedding present - and an unlikely twist of fate leads her to seek out the truth about Sophie LeFevre.

I love how the two halves of this story, past and present, are mirrored so perfectly, yet the individual narratives of Sophie and Liv also stand alone and apart. Sophie's account is haunting, describing the deprivation and despair experienced in occupied France and filling the reader with admiration and sympathy for Sophie. Some novels written in the first person sound like exercises in creative writing, but Jojo Moyes uses the personal perspective to really bring Sophie to life, with all of her faults and fears. She is brave, but also foolhardy, and I wanted to shake her sometimes, for never backing down. Liv's story is more of a traditional chick lit romance, with the hard-won hero, eccentric friends and comfortable lifestyle, but no less enjoyable for that. I thought the contrast of sadness and silliness would be jarring, but the two women complement each other. Liv's grief, living alone in the glass house designed by her unforgettable late husband, is somehow no less real than the high drama of Sophie's day to day existence, and I grew attached to both of them.

I was a bit disappointed by the barrage of unlikely coincidences towards the end - hidden journals, surprise appearances - but realise that ultimately, this is chick lit, where every unlucky in love heroine deserves a happy ever after, so decided to go with the flow. Sophie and Liv would probably face far darker fates in real life, but I don't mind having all the loose ends tie up into a big pink bow when reading such a well-written and emotional fairytale like this.
Show Less
LibraryThing member cassmob
I loved this book and gobbled it up in one sitting. Now I need to revisit it and digest it in more detail.
LibraryThing member MissAda
I love jojo moyes. she just never disappoints! Loved very page. Cleverly written
LibraryThing member Carolinejyoung
I always enjoy a book about the war and, as I didn't read the blurb on this one, I was pleasantly surprised. I was a little concerned, when the setting switched to present day, that I wouldn't find out what happened to Sophie but, I needn't have worried as the ending was quite satisfactory!
LibraryThing member slrfmriley
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book. The title, "The Girl You Left Behind" refers to a painting that is the main plot point. But it also refers to the two main characters, Sophie Lefevre and Liv Halston. Almost 100 years separate these two women, but the painting is important
Show More
to both of them.

(1916) Sophie's husband Edouard painted the portrait of his wife, and now he's left her behind to fight the Germans. Sophie's small French town has fallen to the Germans and the Kommandant has an obsession for the painting. Sophie decides to risk everything for a chance to see her husband again.

Nearly 100 years later, Liv is given the painting by her husband as a wedding gift, shortly before her husband's unexpected death. Sophie's family makes a claim to the painting under the reparations Act, claiming the painting was stolen during the First World War.

The history of Sophie and "The Girl You Left Behind" is the best part of the book. The story of Liv was interesting, but I loved Sophie's story. I can highly recommend this book, I was enthrall end immediately.
Show Less
LibraryThing member melissarochelle
Read from July 22 to August 09, 2013

It was a slow start with this one, but once I made it through the first part of Sophie's story and met Liv it really picked up the pace. I was more interested in Liv's story...Sophie's painting was what kept me reading though. How did it end up in Liv's home? And
Show More
who is this guy that suddenly wants it? (I kept wondering why the artists family thought they deserved it? It was Sophie's painting, it was in HER family's hotel, not Eduoard's.)

Definitely made me more interested in learning about are stolen during wartime. Monuments Men (the book and movie) is now of serious interest to me.
Show Less
LibraryThing member salgalruns
There was just something about this book that I loved. Dual storylines that cross time, love of art, strong female characters, and a bit of history all connect to make this a wonderful read.

The story revolves around two women. Sophie lives during WWI in France and runs a tavern with her sister
Show More
while their husbands are off fighting. During this time, she and her sister are made to cook and serve to German soldiers, while the rest of the town is starving. Sophie clings to her most treasured possession, a portrait that her artist husband painted of her before the war. It also catches the eye of the German Kommendant, which gives cause for speculation among the town as well.

Fast forward several decades into present time, and Olivia ("Liv") is now the owner of the portrait that her husband purchased for her. It comes under scrutiny as it is believed to have been stolen during wartime. Liv is passionate about the paining, and comes to truly know Sophie through her understanding of what happened to the artwork between Sophie's time and hers.

I appreciated that while there were secondary characters (who were wonderful), they never distracted from the passion and drive of the characters of Sophie and Liv. I also read Honeymoon in Paris and found that the prequel and this book, while connected, are two stand alone stories. The prequel gives more information about the relationships between the women and their spouses, but doesn't cross over into this book and isn't necessary for the understanding of this one. Well done on both accounts for that reason, in my opinion.

A great read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member nbmars
This is a beautifully crafted, unforgettable story by an author who has become one of my favorites.

This book switches back and forth in time between a small town in the northern France during World War I, and London in the present day. Unlike many other books using that narrative device, the
Show More
stories not only are totally relevant to one another but both time periods are of equal interest.

The part from the past takes place in the town of St. Peronne during the occupation of the Germans from 1914-1918. It is interesting that this occupation has received very little attention even in histories of World War I. As one researcher notes:

"In many ways the first occupation was harsher and more destructive than that of 1940 to 1944, as the French were largely unprepared for the suffering brought on by occupation and the Germans occupied a smaller area of French territory, allowing them extra resources to control daily life. [Moreover,] [t]he civilian experience, including the personal hardships suffered by the occupied French and collaboration (both forced and voluntary) between German occupier and French occupée, influenced the French culture and identity, as well as Franco-German relations into the 20th century."

The author does an excellent job in chronicling what happened in northern France without giving the reader the least sensation of getting a history lesson. She simply integrates it into the story which is at turns, heartbreaking, heartwarming, inspiring, tragic, and lovely.

In the present, we meet 32-year-old Liv Halston, who after four years is still mourning the untimely death of her husband from heart failure. She draws comfort from the painting he bought for her on their honeymoon. It is a portrait of Sophie Lefevre, who is the woman we learn to know in the part of the book from 1916. Unfortunately, Sophie’s descendants have decided to try to reclaim the now-valuable painting under the rules of the Hague Convention for the recovery of art stolen during wartime.

And there is a further complication: the man in charge of trying to recover her beloved picture is one that Sophie not only knows, but who she thought just might be the one to help her finally move on from her husband’s death.

Evaluation: This author is such a good writer. She makes you feel all the feelings. Whatever she is writing about, she adds so much passion and imbues it with so many interesting aspects that you feel like your heart has been wrapped in a blanket, your mind has been lit up by a spotlight, and you feel darn happy to be a reader!
Show Less
LibraryThing member Smits
I enjoyed this book a lot. It follows parallel lives of Sophie, in 1917 and modern day Liv. liv acquires a painting on her honeymoon called "The Girl You left behind". The subject of this painting is Sophie. So we follow Sophie's life married to an artist Edouard Lefevre who goes to war and she is
Show More
left to run the bar which gets occupied by Germans during WWI. Meanwhile Liv is a widow lost in grief until she meets Paul. As it turns out Paul works for a firm that retrieves stolen art. He works for the Lefevre family and the obvious happens. However, the novel still has interest as the whole idea of stolen or lost art is very interesting.
Both past and jpresent stories are very strong and the characters rich. very good
Show Less
LibraryThing member wrbinpa
France - 1916 - World War 1 - The Germans are occupying a proud little village of St. Peronne. It had been one of the first towns to fall to the Germans. The Bessette family had been running a hotel, La Coq Rouge, a very fine establishment for generations. After the village becomes occupied, Sophie
Show More
and her sister, Helene, continue to keep the hotel going while both of their husbands are fighting in the war. There were barely any men left in the town and the women had to take on men's work. The village had no milk to feed the babies, they were weeping from hunger and becoming ill from lack of good nutrition. The Germans were the only ones who ate well. They raided wine cellars and also took food that had been produced by the local farmers.

Herr Kommandant enters the story and decides that his men will be fed at the hotel. Sophie and her family would provide meals for the German officers. Herr Kommandant becomes almost mesmerized by a portrait, in its gilded frame, hanging in the hotel - a portrait of Sophie, painted by her artist husband, Edouard. Herr Kommandant shows kindness towards Sophie and her family, but becomes consumed by Sophie.

The plot becomes complex with a myriad of obstacles to overcome. Edouard is sent to a reprisal camp at Ardennes, which was said to be one of the worst. Sophie is take prisoner by the occupying German forces.

The author effortlessly weaves together two stories, a century apart. The story flips over to 2006 - London - where Liv Halston is struggling to get over her husband's death, that happened four years earlier. In her living room hangs the portrait of The Girl You Left behind, given to her by her late husband, David, on their honeymoon. The story evolves around the portrait and just when you think the story is resolved , it takes on a twist, and then, yet another. Finally the resolution comes, and not what is expected. I absolutely loved the ending.

This is a beautifully written story that will capture you from the beginning. The author spins a tale of twisting emotions while blending the past and the present in vivid detail. You don't want to miss this one. 5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley for an honest review of this book. The opinions shared in this review are my own.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Iudita
Here is another very enjoyable story by the author of Me Before You. One storyline takes place during WWI and another takes place in current time. The two stories are connected by a famous painting and by two women who are desperate to hang onto what is most precious to them. I think this author
Show More
has a gift for enabling the reader to see the world through the eyes of her characters. I would recommend this book to those that love a good story about human struggle and challenge. I enjoyed the story so much I read it in 3 sittings.
Show Less
LibraryThing member TheLoopyLibrarian
I became so caught up in the storytelling and so invested in the characters that I barely remembered to take notes as is my habit. The two love stories, nearly 100 years apart (St. Peronne, France under German Occupation 1916 and London, England 2006) and linked by a portrait, were interlaced
Show More
beautifully and compassionately. I especially liked the two female characters. They were strong-willed but kind, flawed but likeable. Both were willing to sacrifice everything for love. At times this made them do foolish things, but it was hard not to root for them just the same. This book had hope and tragedy, history and art, war and sacrifice, cruelty and unexpected kindnesses. I was captivated from start to finish, and I highly recommend for fans of historical fiction and romance.

Favorite quotes:

“This was the story of our lives: minor insurrections; tiny victories; a brief chance to ridicule our oppressors; little floating vessels of hope amid a great sea of uncertainty, deprivation, and fear” (p.14). –Sophie

“Sometimes life is a series of obstacles, a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, she realizes suddenly, it is simply a matter of blind faith” (p. 332). –Liv

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note that I was given a free copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Show Less
LibraryThing member shirleybell
I really enjoyed this, especially Sophie's story based during the first world war in France. I thought it was a well crafted story and I loved the way the two stories were linked together. Having read Me Before You, I was wondering if this would live up to expectations, and it did!
LibraryThing member jules72653
Even better than Me Before You.




014312577X / 9780143125778


Page: 0.9207 seconds