Girl You Left Behind (Moyes)

The Girl You Left Behind 
Jojo Moyes, 2013
Pamela Dorman Books
384 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780670026616

A spellbinding love story of two women separated by a century but united in their determination to fight for what they love most

Jojo Moyes’s bestseller, Me Before You, catapulted her to wide critical acclaim and has struck a chord with readers everywhere. Moyes returns with another irresistible heartbreaker that asks, “Whatever happened to the girl you left behind?”

France, 1916:  Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

Like Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress and Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key, The Girl You Left Behind is a breathtaking story of love, loss, and sacrifice told with Moyes’s signature ability to capture our hearts with every turn of the page. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—London, England, UK
Education—B.A., London University
Awards—Romantic Novel of the year (twice)
Currently—lives in Essex, England

Jojo Moyes is a British journalist and the author of 10 novels published from 2002 to the present.  She studied at Royal Holloway, University of London and Bedford New College, London University.

In 1992 she won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University, London. She subsequently worked for The Independent for the next 10 years (except for one year, when she worked in Hong Kong for the Sunday Morning Post) in various roles, becoming Assistant News Editor in 1988. In 2002 she became the newspaper's Arts and Media Correspondent.

Moyes became a full-time novelist in 2002, when her first book Sheltering Rain was published. She is most well known for her later novels, The Last Letter From Your Lover (2010), Me Before You (2012), and The Girl You Left Behind ( 2013), all of which were received with wide critical accalim.

She is one of only a few authors to have won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Romantic Novel of the Year Award twice—in 2004 for Foreign Fruit and in 2011 for The Last Letter From Your Lover. She continues to write articles for The Daily Telegraph.

Moyes lives on a farm in Saffron Walden, Essex with her husband, journalist Charles Arthur, and their three children. (Adapted from Wikipedia.)

Book Reviews
(Starred review.) [E]nchanting...entwines two love stories set 90 years apart, connected by a painting called The Girl You Left Behind. In 1916, 22-year-old Sophie Lefevre struggles against a new German her occupied village in northern France.... Jumping ahead to London in 2006, the story turns to 32-year-old Liv Halston, whose architect husband David bought Sophie’s painting.... An unfortunate coincidence twists the knife deeper, and Liv is forced to fight tooth and nail for what she has come to love most in the world. Lovely and wry, Moyes’s newest is captivating and bittersweet.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review.) Moyes 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

Moyes’ latest is made heartwarming, thanks to the vibrancy of its main characters, both of whom will keep readers on their toes with their chemistry and witty repartee....humorous and romantic through and through.

Moyes’ twisting, turning, heartbreaking novel raises provocative moral questions while developing a truly unique relationship between two people brought together by chance. With shades of David Nicholls’ beloved One Day, Me Before You is the kind of book you simply can’t put down—even when you realize you don’t want to see it end.... A big-hearted, beautifully written story that teaches us it is never too late to truly start living.

The newest novel by Moyes (Me Before You, 2012, etc.) shares its title with a fictional painting that serves as catalyst in linking two loves stories, one set in occupied France during World War I, the other in 21st-century London. In a French village in 1916, Sophie is helping the family while her husband, Edouard, an artist who studied with Matisse, is off fighting.... Cut to 2006 and....Edouard's descendants recently hired [Paul] to find the painting.... Moyes is a born storyteller who makes it impossible not to care about her heroines.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. 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?

2. Does Edouard’s portrait of Sophie capture who she already was or who she had the potential to become?

3. Before you knew the truth about Liliane Bethune, how did you feel about the treatment she received at the hands of the other villagers?

4. Sophie strikes a deal with the Kommandant in hopes that he, in turn, will reunite her with Edouard. Would you be willing to make a similar trade? Would most men appreciate Sophie’s sacrifice?

5. Unlike Helene, Aurelien angrily condemns Sophie’s relationship with the Kommandant. Why do you think Aurelien reacted as he did?

6. Have you ever experienced real hunger? If you were a French villager in St. Peronne, how far might you go in order to feed yourself and your loved ones?

7. How did you think Sophie’s story would end? Were you surprised by what Liv uncovered?

8. 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?

9. 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?

10. Do you think the present–day Lefevre family’s interest in the financial worth of The Girl You Left Behind—and their apparent lack of interest in its beauty—made their claim any less worthy?

11. Why does Liv ultimately choose to try to save the painting rather than her home? What would you have done in her position?

12. Is Paul right to fear that Liv would eventually resent him for the loss of the painting?

13. 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?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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