The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
(Pamela Dorman Books, 2013, 369 pages)
When Edouard leaves Sophie to fight the Germans in WWI, he leaves behind a painting of her that Sophie will do anything to protect. Even though the Germans that occupy her small French town take anything marginally valuable from them, Sophie proudly displays her painting as a reminder of her husband. When the new Kommandant sees the painting of Sophie, things begin to change for her. Suddenly she is drawing the attention of the Kommandant and the town is beginning to notice her relationship with him. But Sophie will do anything to be reunited with Edouard again, no matter what the consequences.
A century later, Edouard’s portrait of his wife is now owned by Liv Halston who has had her own life troubles. Her husband’s sudden death left Liv with a strong attachment to the painting as he bought it for her on their honeymoon. After Edouard’s relatives discover the lost painting is in Liv’s possession, they believe they are the true owners. But Liv is not convinced that she doesn’t legally own the painting of Sophie and her morals are questioned by everyone around her.
Moyes is quickly becoming an author where her books are must reads on my list. Between Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind, the stories are completely unique, heartbreaking, and I truly didn’t know what was going to happen in the end or what the right decisions were for the characters. Sophie’s choice between giving everything up for the chance to see her husband again was a gamble I couldn’t imagine. Then Liv’s decision on whether to give up her beloved painting or stick to her beliefs even though she was getting spit on by strangers in the street was cringe worthy. What I got from the book was a story about two strong, incredible women that I won’t forget about anytime soon.