The Girl You Left Behind (Paperback)
Penguin Books, 9780143125778, 480pp.
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (8/19/2013)
Paperback, Large Print (7/4/2014)
Paperback, Vietnamese (10/1/2018)
Hardcover, Large Print (9/4/2013)
September 2013 Indie Next List
— Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC
View the List
Paris, World War I. Sophie Lefèvre must keep her family safe while her adored husband, Édouard, fights at the front. When their town falls to the Germans, Sophie is forced to serve them every evening at her hotel. From the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait—painted by her artist husband—a dangerous obsession is born.
Almost a century later in London, Sophie’s portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before his sudden death. After a chance encounter reveals the portrait’s true worth, a battle begins over its troubled history and Liv’s world is turned upside all over again.
About the Author
Praise For The Girl You Left Behind: A Novel…
—People Magazine (***)
"Jojo Moyes expertly weaves a bittersweet tale in this irresistible novel, taking careful interest in the dark corners that exist within great love stories, and the trickiness of simple happy endings. A-"
“Moyes writes delicious plots, with characters so clearly imagined they leap off the pages in high-definition prose. . . . Clever plot turns make for a satisfying ending . . . Moyes brings fresh strokes to this story about the power of art and love to transcend what imprisons us. Romantics looking for a story set amid the politics of plundered art couldn't do much better than The Girl You Left Behind.”
—USA Today (3 1/2 stars)
"Jojo Moyes builds on her strengths in this moving and accomplished new novel. As she did in the best-selling Me Before You, she asks readers to think in fresh ways about a morally complex issue. . . . The Girl You Left Behind is strong, provocative, satisfying fiction."
—The Washington Post
"'In this moving paean to daring, determination and perspicacity, Moyes keeps the reader guessing down to the last hankie."
—Los Angeles Times
—New York Daily News
"In her latest heart tugger, Jojo Moyes deftly weaves the story of newlyweds in WWI France with that of a young widow in today’s London."
"Lovely and wry, Moyes’s newest is captivating and bittersweet."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Moyes (Me Before You) has created a riveting depiction of a wartime occupation that has mostly faded from memory. Liv and Sophie are so real in their faults, passion, and bravery that the reader is swept along right to the end. This one is hard to put down!"
—Library Journal (starred review)
"Moyes (Me Before You, 2012) writes with such clarity that one can almost see the eponymous 100-year-old painting at the center of her wonderful new novel. . . . an uncommonly good love story."
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
At one point, the Kommandant asks Sophie if they can just “be two people” (p. 72). What did you make of this—did you ever find yourself sympathizing with the Kommandant or any of the German soldiers? Is there room for sympathy on both sides?
Does Édouard’s portrait of Sophie capture who she already was or who she had the potential to become?
Before you knew the truth about Liliane Béthune, how did you feel about the treatment she received at the hands of the other villages?
Sophie strikes a deal with the Kommandant in hopes that he, in turn, will reunite her with Édouard. Would you be willing to make a similar trade? Would most men appreciate Sophie’s sacrifice?
Unlike Hélène, Aurélian angrily condemns Sophie’s relationship with the Kommandant. Why do you think Aurelian reacted as he did?
Have you ever experienced real hunger? If you were a French village in St. Péronne, how far might you go in order to feed yourself and your loved ones?
How did you think Sophie’s story would end? Were you surprised by what Liv uncovered?
When Liv takes a group of underprivileged students on a tour of Conaghy Securities, most of them had never considered architecture as an art form. Why is this type of cultural exposure important for young people of all backgrounds?
Liv feels that she cannot go on without the portrait of Sophie—it is that important to her. Do you think a material object should hold such significance? Have you ever loved a piece of art or another object so much that you couldn’t bear to part with it?
Do you think the present-day Lefèvre family’s interest in the financial worth of The Girl You Left Behind—and their apparent lack of interest in its beauty—mad their claim any less worthy?
Why does Liv ultimately choose to try to save the painting rather than her home? What would you have done in her position?
Is Paul right to fear that Liv would eventually resent him for the loss of the painting?
In general, if a stolen artwork is legally acquired by its current owner, whose claim is more legitimate: the new owner or the original owner and his or her descendants? Should there be a statute of limitations? What if the current owner is a museum?