I have an obsession with used book stores. I love walking into places where the shelves are overflowing with books older than me, with yellowing pages and musty smells. One of the less-musty books I found recently at a bookstore was Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind. It tells the story of two women: one is Sophie, living in France during World War I, whose painter husband is off to war. The other is Liv, a twenty-first century widow who owns a portrait of Sophie, painted by Sophie’s husband. The story flips back and forth between the two time periods.
Moyes successfully transports her readers between times; she chose perfect places during the story to time travel. I found myself reading on through a 2006 period, just to get back to the 1917 period, only to be left on a cliffhanger in 2006. It’s an endless cycle of trying to catch up to find out what happens.
I enjoyed the contrast between Sophie and Liv. Sophie was a much easier character to relate to, and like. Liv got a little too whiny and rude for me. It was hard for me to sympathize with her until nearly the end of the novel. Even then, I was only understanding her reasons for her actions, not necessarily rooting for her.
I appreciate this book primarily because of the mystery. The entire novel is spent tracing the history of Sophie’s portrait, from Sophie’s wall to Liv’s. Moyes uses interesting twists to show her readers just how the painting came to Liv’s hands. What you thought happened to the painting, isn’t what happened to it at all.
This book tells a wonderful mystery; I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys mysteries. it lacked some of the adventurous, thrilling moments I usually enjoy in books, but it wasn’t a failure. Moyes paints the perfect picture of war-torn France and blends it with modern-day London.