Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Girl you Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Paperback: 516 pages
Genre: Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin 2012

Source:  Tywyn Public Library, Wales.
First Sentences: I was dreaming of food. Crisp baguettes, the flesh of the bread a virginal white, still steaming from the oven and ripe cheese, its borders creeping towards the edge of the plate.
Favourite Quote: “Sometimes life is a series of obstacles, a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, she realizes suddenly, it is simply a matter of blind faith.” 
Review Quote: Even as Moyes tackles the inflammatory issues around art stolen during wartime, she never loses sight of the driving engine of her narrative . . . this pleasurably assured writer skilfully balances the quotidian and the comic with the broad and universal, leaving us with the tantalising possibility of a potential caper to come (Independent on Sunday)
Literary Awards:  Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction (2013)
My Opinion: 'The Girl You Left Behind' had me so engrossed that I was reading a 100 pages a night.

Jojo Moyes is an author that slipped through my reading net between 2003 and this year when I found this title in my local public library. Having read the first three books in her back catalogue before moving to Italy, I am now planning to read her more recent novels as delighted to have rediscovered her writing. Disappointing not have read the ones I missed but maybe I will catch up with them one day. I know too many books and not enough time, but you never know! Anyway I am delighted to have rediscovered this author as 'The Girl You Left Behind' had me so engrossed that I was reading a 100 pages a night before settling down to sleep.

A dual time story about a portrait of Sophie Lefevre, the protagonist of the first part of the novel, which her husband had painted before leaving for war. She lives in occupied St Peronne France in 1914 at the outbreak of WWI, where running the family hotel Sophie and her sister are forced to cook for the German Officers. The portrait of Sophie which hangs in the hotel attracts the attention of one of the officers and he shows sympathy towards her, the problems that this causes bring up complicated questions for her to deal with.
Leaving war torn France on a cliff- hanger the story leaps forward to London in 2006 where we meet the modern day protagonist Liv Halston. Liv is a young widow and now the owner of the very same painting, given to her as a wedding present by her late husband, David. Obviously Liv is very attached to this painting and it comes as a tremendous shock to her to learn that the descendants of the original artist, Sophie's husband Edouard Lefevre are demanding its return to the family. Under a Geneva Convention ruling that prohibits the looting of civilian property during wartime, they are determined to fight for what they feel is rightfully theirs.
As you can imagine this story in both periods throws up some complex issues both personal and international for the two women. Keeping the focus on the two females Sophie and Liv this is an absorbing tale that you will have to read to find out just what does happen to the painting.

This is a great read and will appeal to many readers, not just Jojo Moyes fan base as it covers different genres. 
Personally I am certainly looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of Jojo Moyes latest novel as soon as possible.  

Author Profile

Jojo Moyes was born in London, UK in 1969 she is a British novelist and journalist.  She studied at Royal Holloway, University of London.   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 2001 she left to work as a novelist full time, although she continues to write articles for The Daily Telegraph.

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 and her husband journalist Charles Arthur live in Saffron Walden, Essex with their three children.


  • Sheltering Rain (2002)
  • Foreign Fruit (2003) (published in the US as Windfallen)
  • The Peacock Emporium (2004) (published in German as Suzanna's Coffee-Shop)
  • The Ship of Brides (2005)
  • Silver Bay (2007)
  • Night Music (2008)
  • The Horse Dancer (2009)
  • The Last Letter From Your Lover (2010)
  • Me Before You (2012)
  • Honeymoon In Paris
  • The Girl You Left Behind (2012)
  • "The One Plus One" (2014)

As you will have noticed from the review I am disappointed to have missed out on Jojo Moyes novels between 2005 and 2012. Checking back I did review The Peacock Emporium in the early days of this blog.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.


  1. HMMM I've never read her. Added this to my TBR list.

    1. I do not think you will regret adding Jojo Moyes to your TBR list Jackie.


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