Title: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Published August 20, 2013
Source: library book
It was then I realized he was still looking at the painting....A painting of Sophie, done by her husband who is a prisoner of the Germans during WWI, hangs in her hotel in a small French town. It is being admired by the German commandant who has requisitioned the hotel dining room and ordered Sophie and her sister to cook for his men. This painting being marveled at by the commandant causes no end of trouble for Sophie in 1916 and continues to create problems later in modern London, ninety years later, when the newest owner of the painting, Liv, fights to keep possession of it.
He kept staring at it. Behind him, his men had begun to leave, their voices loud and harsh, bouncing across the empty square. I shivered a little ever time the door opened.
"It looks so like you." (ch. 3)
The arresting quality of the woman in the painting reminds me of Vermeer's 17th century painting, "Girl with a Pearl Earring." Liv, in the 21th century, is entranced by the woman in her own painting, "The Girl You Left Behind," and must fight to prove that her ownership is valid and that the painting is not a spoil of war that must be returned to the painter's family.
The novel focuses on restitution, especially in the art world, when lost and stolen art are being reclaimed and returned to their original owners, and where current owners of art are required to provide a history of its ownership or its provenance.
Well written and engrossing, the novel is part historical fiction and part romance. I read the book in about two days, caught up in the story, the characters, and the issue of stolen art, provenance, and recent history. I'd recommend this as an excellent book for readers.
Any particular book caught your interest lately?