The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes is a positively wonderful novel about the power of love.
The tale is set in London in 2006 and in France in 1916. Both time periods are linked by a painting.
Love is a powerful force. Both female protagonists have lost the love of their life. In 1916 Sophie’s husband is fighting the Germans, while in 2006 Liv’s husband is dead. The women have their memories to keep them warm. Sophie hopes her husband will return again. Liv needs to learn to live once more. “Am I allowed to be this happy again?” It is natural to feel guilt when we begin to smile again.
Occupied France is a dangerous place to be. The Germans are cruel – but not all. Germans are people too with feelings and families. Far too often we make judgements based on the uniform but a heart beats underneath and there is compassion.
There is fear all around in 1916. “I can’t remember what it was like to not be afraid.” People live as best as they could. There were some extraordinary acts of bravery. Juxtaposed were abominable acts of cruelty from the French villagers who pronounce people ‘guilty’ and collaborators based on hearsay and very little evidence.
I loved the leading ladies. Both were strong females, desperately in love and who would fight for what they believed was right.
I always love Jojo Moyes novels. I sink into them like a cosy armchair and get lost in the action. The Girl You Left Behind was positively enchanting.