Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes - Review

I really enjoyed Jojo Moyes' previous book, Me Before You (particularly as the theme was the subject I wrote my dissertation on), so was very excited when I found out that I would be getting an advance copy to review, courtesy of The Reading Room and Penguin.  As with most people, I sobbed at times while reading Me Before You, and if anything, The Girl You Left Behind made me cry more.  How much a book makes me cry is a very good indication of whether a book is really good, as it means I have empathised with the characters.  If I have empathised particularly well with the characters, I cry at the happy as well as the sad parts.  In fact, I should probably review books with a tear rating!

This book revolves around a painting 'The Girl You Left Behind' and how it connects two women living almost a century apart.  In German-occupied France, 1916, Sophie Lefevre's artist husband has been sent to fight at the Front.  His portrait of her hangs in her family's hotel.  A constant reminder of their love, it gives her hope that they will be reunited.  Sophie will do whatever it takes to ensure his safety.

In London, 2006,  Liv is grieving for her husband who died suddenly 4 years previously.  Her most precious possession is the portrait of a young woman he gave her shortly before his death.  A chance encounter initiates a chain of events which leads to the discovery of the painting's tragic history and leads to Liv putting everything on the line to fight for what she loves most.

Will Sophie and her family survive the war and be reunited with their loved-ones?  Will Liv be able to move on and find happiness once again?  What is the truth of what really happened to the painting in the intervening years? 

This is a fantastic book.  Gripping and with plot twists right to the final pages, you will not be able to put it down.  The attention to detail gives you the feeling that you are actually there, experiencing everything with the characters.  Sophie and Liv are fantastic heroines.  Completely believable, they are determined and strong whilst their flaws keep them entirely human.

If you have enjoyed Jojo’s previous books, you will love The Girl You Left Behind.  If this is your first experience of her writing, you’re in for a treat.  Intelligent and emotional it’s a story that will stay with you.

The Girl You Left Behind is published by Penguin.  It will be available in paperback and Kindle editions on the 27th September 2012.

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