The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes is a novel with a two-part setting that intertwines two love stories 100 years apart. The first part of the novel takes us back to 1916 in St Peronne, a small French town occupied by the Germans. It is the middle of WWI, and the close-knit community of St Peronne are having to cope with the presence of the enemy amongst them. Our main character Sophie Lefevre's artist husband Edouard fighting in the war, so she has returned from Paris to help her family run their small hotel, where they are forced to feed the German's. Sophie's most treasured possession is The Girl You Left Behind which is a portrait of her, painted by her husband before he went away. And Moyes leaves us with a bit of a cliff hanger when one of the German Kommandant becomes strangely obsessed with the painting.
Part two transfers us forward 100 years to present day where thirty-year old widow, Liz Halston now owns The Girl You Left Behind, a wedding present from her late husband, David who bought it because the pictured Sophie reminded him of Liv. Liv still mourns her loss, and like Sophie she feels that the painting is the only real link she has to David, and she would do anything to keep it. Sophie and Liv's stories inevitably become intertwined as Liv fights to keep the painting, and
Sophie's story is continued through the diaries and letters that she and her
family members wrote all those years ago. An absolutely fantastic read.