“The Girl You Left Behind“, by Jojo Moyes was an excellent read.
I passed up a few invites to hang out with friends so I could keep reading – which is the true sign that you are thoroughly enjoying a book!
The story goes back and forth between two plot lines. One is set during the First World War and the other set in current day.
The story revolves around the painting of a beautiful young woman. The painting of Sophie Lefevre was done by her artist husband, Edouard. He leaves to fight in the war and Sophie is left behind to run their hotel with her sister. The sisters struggle morally and socially when they are forced to prepare proper meals for German soldiers while their community starves on the rations. During this time, Sophie does what she thinks is best for her community and to save her beloved Edouard. All the while, her mesmerizing portrait hangs in the hotel for the public to admire. Sophie uses it to remember a time filled with love and hope before the war.
Fast forward to current day. Liv Halston has the very painting hanging in her own home. It was a wedding gift from her late husband and acts as an anchor in Liv’s life, serving as a reminder of her happiest times.
Liv is unaware that this painting is considered to be stolen or that the Lefevre family has hired a company that specializes in locating art stolen during the wars. She finds out when she is summoned to surrender her loved painting.
As the story weaves back and forth between the two women’s lives you feel connected to them both and worry about the direction they are each headed. The story of Sophie unfolds as Liv’s lawyers research the painting’s history, its removal from the hotel, and how it ended up in Liv’s possession.
Liv is willing to give up everything she has to fight the Lefevre family in court and keep the painting of Sophie. She knows they care only for the monetary value of the painting.
Was the painting stolen by the Germans or gifted to them? The entire case is hinged on this technicality.
Who is the rightful owner of the painting and who will end up with her in the end? It’s worth reading the 363 pages to find out!