Dec 24, 2013

Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Title: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Published August 20, 2013
Source: library book
Rating: 4.5/5
It was then I realized he was still looking at the painting....
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)
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.

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?


  1. Interesting and timely plot. Though most of the instances that I am aware of originate from WW II. There are still more then a few pieces of art whose ownership is in dispute after being stollen in the war. I also have heard of a few cases arising out of the era of European colonization of Africa.

  2. Wonderful review Harvee. I enjoyed this book as well.

  3. Glad to hear it's such a page turner. I need to read this book; it's been sitting unread too long on my shelf!


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