The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

July 25, 2013 Art, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance 31

Bonjour Bookworms!

Remember back when I read Me Before You and I was all agog over Jojo Moyes? Her upcoming release (August 20th!) was listed on NetGalley and I hit the “request” button so enthusiastically, I might have sprained my finger. Alright, that bit about the finger sprain is untrue, but I tend to get hyperbolic when I’m excited. As you saw right there, I am TERRIBLE AT LYING. Therefore, when I tell you that I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, you won’t question my integrity. 

The Girl You Left Behind is told from the perspectives of two different women, living decades apart, who are connected through a painting. The book begins in 1916, at the height of WWI. Sophie LeFevre finds herself living in her hometown in northern France with her sister, brother, niece, and nephew as her husband and brother-in-law fight in the trenches. The town has been occupied by German forces, and life is bleak. The German army has requisitioned food stores, supplies, furniture, and fuel. The local French population is on the brink of starvation, and they are completely cut off from the outside world. Sophie’s source of strength is a portrait her artist husband painted of her. Its beauty offers solace in a home that’s been stripped of its comforts. It represents a connection to Sophie’s beloved Edouard. Her intense expression reminds her in her weaker moments that she’s not a woman to be trifled with.

Cover.Girl You Left Behind

Olivia Halston lives in London in 2006. She is a young widow, and devastated by the loss of her husband. She draws her strength from a painting her husband purchased for her on their honeymoon. It depicts a woman with an intense expression who looks as though she could survive anything… A woman who happens to be Sophie LeFevre. (Dun dun dun!!!) As Liv’s tale unfolds, the origins of  the painting she so cherishes are called into question by a lawsuit. In order to defend her claim to the contested painting, Liv embarks on a journey of historical and personal discovery.

That’s all I’m telling you because I’m lazy and I don’t want to be Spoilerella today. I DEVOURED this book, you guys! Is historical fiction about art and personal discovery a genre unto itself? It should be. I would buy ALL THE BOOKS! This book reminded me of all my favorite historical fiction and art novels: The Girl in the Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Virgin Blue both by Tracy Chevalier, and The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. It also reminded me of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay what with the historical events and the modern day sleuthing to uncover the truth… Of course this was (overall) significantly less depressing than Sarah’s Key, so don’t be frightened away.

I was going to suggest that my authors get a thesaurus for their titles, because there are so many "The Girl..." going on. I just pulled up this lovely impressionist piece by Renoir, titled (ever so creatively) "A Girl." I should probably be blaming the painters...

I was going to suggest that my favorite authors consider getting a thesaurus for their titles, as they’re all so similar. Then I pulled up this lovely impressionist piece by Renoir, titled “A Girl.” I should probably be blaming the painters for the repetitive titles. (source)

Dear Jojo Moyes, please consider this your invitation to the imaginary slumber party I’m having with Diana Gabaldon and JK Rowling. That’s my super creepy way of telling you that your books are fabulous and I’m a big fan. Don’t worry, I’m way too lazy and not nearly crazy enough to actually stalk anyone. I just think you’re the bees knees, Jojo. And your name makes me want to sing Beatles songs.

Now, if you’ll excuse me while I get back to where I once belonged, tell me, Bookworms. Do you ever hang out in antique stores and just wonder what the stuff would tell you if it could talk? How DID those antique penguin salt and pepper shakers wind up in my curio cabinet?! I mean, sure I know that “Aunt” Shelly got them at a swap meet, but who had them first? I want to knoooooooow! Is this my own personal brand of eccentric or does anybody else play this game?  

31 Responses to “The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes”

  1. Nadia

    I have this book on my kindle and now I’m even more excited to read it 😉 I loved Moyes book, Me Before You which is why I requested this one off NetGalley. Sounds like I’m in for quite a good read. And, I know what you mean – her name is awesome and I totally get why think of Beatles’ songs when you see her name. Oh, and who doesn’t think of those things when you are in an antique store. I know I do. Its kind of cool to wonder about the history of an object 🙂 Great post!

    • Words for Worms

      I had to stop myself from naming this post “Get Back, Jojo!” I have issues. I’m glad you’re with me on the antique mystique (ooooh if I had a shop I would SO name it that!)

  2. Christi

    Your imaginary slumber party sounds like the place to be! Will there be caramel popcorn?

    I loved Girl with a Pearl Earring, so I’ll have to check out this Jojo Moyes book as well. 🙂

  3. Ashley Austrew

    When I was in college I used to go to the little antique shops downtown and just browse around for hours. I always wanted to own an antique shop. There are so many cool little trinkets to be found.

  4. Rhian

    I haven’t read your post because I just got this out of the library *3 hours ago*. Are you projecting thoughts into my head? Do I need get myself a tinfoil hat?

    • Words for Worms

      Ha! I WISH I could project thoughts! Especially to Australia! I’d be all “you know you want to send me a koala…” On second thought, I think a koala might not be the greatest of pets…

  5. Darlene Lominac Overton

    Will put this one on my TBR list!

    This review reminded me of Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, but on a much simpler scale. Two time periods converging. All about museums. BEAUTIFUL drawings and you could totally finish it in one day.

  6. Books, Tea & Me

    AH! I literally just got this in the mail yesterday from the publisher, so I can’t wait to read it! If it’s anything like Me Before You, I’m sure it’ll be a winner.

  7. Shannon @ River City Reading

    I’m so glad to hear this, because I was one who was not thrilled with Me Before You (I had issues with her manipulation of characters more than her writing), so I’ve been really curious what people would think of this. I love the sound of the storyline. Looks like one I might have to pick up!

  8. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    I have this one coming up too, yay 🙂 I’m pretty excited about it!

    Please invite me to your slumber party. I’ll bring snacks.

  9. Wayne

    Sounds like a cool book. Always been interested in WWI after reading *All Quiet On The Western Front*. The Germans did devastate much of France and Belgium that they occupied and the populations suffered immensely. Of course after the war France and Britain imposed harsh terms on the Germans paving the way to WWII.

  10. Leah

    This sounds so good! I’ve been loooving books about people who are connected by something. Wow, that sounds super vague, but you know what I mean, right? People being connected across time and space by some object/occurrence? Anyway, I need to read this now.

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