Within the first three pages I was hooked into this book. It’s 1916 and Sophie Lefèvre is roused awake by her sister, German soldiers have their young brother outside. What can they do to save him? Instantly Sophie’s character shines. She’s brave in the face of danger. It sets the tone for this book. I realized immediately that this book was going to be a pull on my heart strings. While the story is fiction, it too closely relates to the experiences of real people during The First World War.
That first night, the new Kommandant notices a painting of Sophie in her home. It was risky of Sophie to display the painting by her husband Édouard so prominently during a time when troops were known for stealing whatever they wanted from citizens. That decision is what set about her own fate. The Kommandant became overly interested in the painting and Sophie herself. Suddenly Sophie is forced to make decisions she doesn’t want to make to protect her family and friends in their little town. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees that Sophie is acting selflessly to help them. Is she a traitor to her own people?
The painting eventually goes missing and turns up a century later in the home of Liv Halston. A wedding present from her late husband, Liv is rather attached to the painting. In her mission to prove her ownership of the painting we finally learn what truly happened to Sophie Lefèvre through old letters, witness accounts, and historical records. Her story is also completed by flashbacks into Sophie’s own perspective.
Jojo Moyes is an expert at weaving such a compelling story that you absolutely can’t believe that the characters are fiction. In each of her books I’ve felt the emotions of the people so deeply myself. The sorrow that Sophie felt was so real. I found myself crying with Sophie. The Girl You Left Behind is absolutely a must-read for any book lover. I read this book on my kindle but intend to buy it in print for my permanent collection.