Book Review – THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind Synopsis:

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo MoyesThe Girl You Left Behind is a hauntingly romantic and utterly irresistible new weepy from Jojo Moyes, author of the Richard and Judy bestseller, Me Before You.

What happened to the girl you left behind?

France, 1916. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe whilst her adored husband Edouard fights at the front. When she is ordered to serve the German officers who descend on her hotel each evening, her home becomes riven by fierce tensions. And from the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait – painted by Edouard – a dangerous obsession is born, which will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision.

Almost a century later, and Sophie’s portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before he died. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and its troubled history. A history that is about to resurface and turn Liv’s life upside down all over again…

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for what they love most – whatever the cost. (Amazon)


I really enjoy Jojo Moyes‘ writing style – I have always found her characters believable, their stories compelling and her prose smooth as silk. Her latest novel The Girl You Left Behind is more of the same high quality contemporary fiction I have come to expect from Moyes. The first chapter, where we are introduced to the indomitable character Sophie Lefevre, is an absolute cracker. 

Jojo Moyes novels will primarily appeal to a female audience and often contain drama and romance and female leads, but they exhibit greater depth of purpose than your standard chick lit in my opinion. In The Girl You Left Behind the impacts of war, both on the oppressors and the oppressed, both at the time and into the future are explored with great compassion and dignity. Moyes’ characters from all walks of life, in history and in the present day, are so vividly drawn that they almost step off the page.

In The Girl You Left Behind Jojo Moyes delivers a cast of inspiring characters in a compelling story that reminds us that a life lived without courage and conviction is a life half-lived.

What I really appreciate about Moyes’ style is that it is as if she writes from behind the scenes – she pulls her characters strings and those of her readers mind so subtly. She does not pigeon hole her characters into good guys and bad guys and her plot line is not laid out for all to see at the outset. It appears to her audience that her characters and the story grow organically and that they are in the front seat on that journey. I think it is her attention to the details that are telling in real life, like one’s expression or the way people hold themselves in a particular situation, that conveys so much.

I enjoyed the novel’s parallel narrative structure, one that takes place in First World War France and the other in modern day London. Some reviewers have said they enjoyed the historical narrative much more than the contemporary one featuring Liv Halston. While Sophie Lefevre is indeed a wonderfully memorable character, I found Liv Halston’s very contemporary struggle just as compelling. I was hooked on the stories of both protagonists and the momentum created by the transitions between the narratives kept me reading long after a sensible bedtime.

And, did reading the prequel novella Honeymoon in Paris enhance my subsequent experience reading The Girl You Left Behind? It did. I also think the UK cover shown above, featuring the poppies that grew on the World War I battlefield graves in France, is both elegant and evocative – much more appealing to me than the Australian cover.

If you are in the mood to be reminded that on occasion one must risk all to gain the ultimate prize, then I strongly recommend you treat yourself to a copy of The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Book Depository | Booktopia (Aus) | Kobobooks | B&NAmazon

Genre: Historical, Drama, Romance, Mystery, Action-Adventure

Author Information: Jojo Moyes (born 1969 in London, England) is a British novelist and journalist. She is one of only a few authors to have twice won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has been translated into eleven different languages.

– Checkout Jojo Moyes official website

Other reviews of The Girl You Left Behind: Kate Forsyth; The Independent; The Intrepid Reader; The Little Reader Library; Bookgeeks

Some other titles by Jojo Moyes: The Peacock Emporium, Honeymoon in Paris, Me Before You, The Last Letter From Your Lover, Ship of Brides, Foreign Fruit, Sheltering Rain, + many more titles

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5 Comments on "Book Review – THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jojo Moyes"

October 17, 2013

I enjoyed this book as well. I appreciate your review even more after reading this book!

August 4, 2013

Thanks for your great review. I am looking forward to reading this.

February 20, 2013

I’ve heard a lot about this book but never realized it has a prequel. It sounds wonderful.