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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Me Before You, a spellbinding love story of two women separated by a century but united in their determination to fight for what they love most

France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard's portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer's dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything - her family, her reputation, and her life - to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, Sophie's portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting's true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is - putting Liv's belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

Like Sarah Blake's The Postmistress and Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key, The Girl You Left Behind is a breathtaking story of love, loss, and sacrifice told with Moyes's signature ability to capture our hearts.

©2013 Jojo Moyes (P)2013 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Vibrant and gripping.” (People Magazine, three stars) 

"Jojo Moyes expertly weaves a bittersweet tale in this irresistible novel, taking careful interest in the dark corners that exist within great love stories, and the trickiness of simple happy endings. A-" (Entertainment Weekly

“Moyes writes delicious plots, with characters so clearly imagined they leap off the pages in high-definition prose.... Clever plot turns make for a satisfying ending.... Moyes brings fresh strokes to this story about the power of art and love to transcend what imprisons us. Romantics looking for a story set amid the politics of plundered art couldn't do much better than The Girl You Left Behind.” (USA Today, three and a half stars) 

What listeners say about The Girl You Left Behind

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Exquisite Portrait of Sophie and Liz

Beautifully written novel of Sophie, a French wife and her sister left to cook for Germans in occupied Paris in WWI. The portrait painted by Sophie's husband, Edourd, captures a moment when she discovers she loves and desires him for the first time, creating a captivating piece of artwork. As she struggles to stay brave for her family; keep up hope for Edourd; entertain monsters in her own home and place of business; she shows Herculean strength and fights to maintain her spirit and dignity.

Present day Liz, received, "The Girl You Left Behind" as a honeymoon present from her now deceased husband. She calls it her favorite possession and feels a deep connection with Sophie.

Both characters are as different as night and day, disparate, yet intriguing in their own way. When I read books told from two different points of view and time periods, I often find myself liking one more than the other. This was not the case, finally. I couldn't wait to hear Sophie's lilting, lovely French accent and was equally waiting to tag along with British Liz during her quest to move on and hold on to Sophie. Moyes created characters with depth you cared about and relationships you felt with intensity.

One of the best books I've listened to in months. Excellent read, and don't call it chic lit!

99 people found this helpful

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A bad accent can ruin the entire experience.

I am trying to plow through this novel but the narrator's horrendous fake French accent is highly distracting and making it difficult to get through. I am only 1/3 into the book but the repetitive prose and the horrible narration is really getting in the way of what seems like a decent story. I hope things get better.

35 people found this helpful

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Really Quite Good

Reading the titles and descriptions of the various Jojo Moyes books, one might assume that she is a prolific "chick lit" factory. After finishing The Girl You Left Behind, my second Moyes novel, my experience has thus far been quite to the contrary. This is a well-written, engaging, thoughtful and rich story.
The beginning, set in a French town during the German occupation in WWI, sets the stage for what will become a tale that becomes a legal and ethical dilemma on many levels. "The Girl You Left Behind" is actually a painting of questionable provenance painted during the war one hundred years ago. But it is so much more than just a painting and the woman who was the painting's subject is brought to life and continues to speak many generations later from the canvas where she is enshrined.
Excellent and touching story, well written and well read. Highly recommended.

29 people found this helpful

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Narrator is insuferable

Would you try another book from Jojo Moyes and/or Clare Corbett and Penny Rawlins ?

I love this author and also Clare Corbett is one of my favorite narrators but the first half of the book is read by Penny Rawlins who is terrible, whenever something dramatic happens her voice goes 5 octaves up and I can't even listen to the words she is saying. S

25 people found this helpful

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The Narration was Perfect & the Story Close to...

But not quite. And my issue is tiny enough I can still recommend this book quite highly.

Ms. Moyes does a great job of taking a controversial issue and helping you see it from a fresh perspective. The issue isn't quite as intense as assisted suicide, as she tackled in her most recent book. But it is still polarizing - repatriation of illegally obtained valuables and personal items during a time of war. This book takes a fresh look at the issue and the perspective she crafted was quite ingenious. She takes a step backwards from the more common storyline of evil Nazis and the pillage they committed during World War II and sets the events in motion during World War I.

The story is told from two perspectives, almost 100 years apart. Two women who are terribly different - one who continues to fight and to hope long after everyone around her has stopped and one who seems to have stopped fighting and hoping a long time ago. Through the artwork they share, the strength and righteousness of Sophie gradually becomes imbued in Liv.

The narration was wonderful, especially Sophie's voice. But both narrators performed multiple characters and accents beautifully.

Here is my one tiny complaint. I will try and express it without giving the ending away, but the resolution in Liv's story has one too many last minute reprieves to me. I felt like I was brought to the bring of resolution, only to find out it wasn't once too often.

I finished the book terribly satisfied. It is the 3rd book I've read by this author. I will definitely read another one and I recommend this one highly.

24 people found this helpful

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Enjoy fake French accents? This book's for you!

Would you try another book from Jojo Moyes and/or Clare Corbett and Penny Rawlins ?

I have enjoyed other audiobooks by this author, but found the choice to go with a bad French accent for the whole book to be extraordinarily annoying. I was listening on a road trip and had to stop after a half hour and buy another audiobook.

20 people found this helpful

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A proper story

This book received high praise in a recent Facebook conversation, so I thought I would take a punt. I hunted it down on Audible and had a listen.

I’d have to agree with the Facebook reviewers, it is a really good, engaging story and, when life’s routines demanded that I switch it off (e.g. arriving at work) I was usually disappointed because I wanted to keep on listening.

It’s all about a painting: The story takes place in two different settings: Occupied France during World War 1 and London in the present day. We also have two heroines (one in each era), two heroes, and a couple of villains. The eponymous painting is of our First World War heroine, Sophie. She is the owner of a hotel (Le Coq Rouge) in an occupied village in rural France. The picture had been painted before the war by her husband, Edouard, who is away fighting the Germans.

The most senior German officer in Sophie’s town is Freidrich, a Kommandant who takes his meals at the hotel and takes a liking to Sophie and her painting.

Then we suddenly switch to modern London to meet Olivia, whose architect husband David died unexpectedly 4 years earlier. She is still grieving his loss, and her favourite possession is the painting of Sophie, which David had bought from an American woman.

I won’t reveal too much more of the plot, but from then on the story follows Olivia’s battle to keep the painting when a legal action is initiated by Sophie’s relatives, who claim that the picture was stolen by the Germans.

It is very well written, with good characterisation and dialogue, and plenty of twists and turns. I think it would make a good film (incidentally, if a film was made I think it might be categorised as a ‘chick flick’). The narrators told the story very well in the sense that they played the roles convincingly, but they also made lots of mistakes and this distracted and irritated me a bit, but this is a churlish criticism of a really good listen.

19 people found this helpful

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I ugly cried.

Would you listen to The Girl You Left Behind again? Why?

Absolutely. There were a lot of characters that came and left throughout the book, as well as fascinating plot twists. To listen again knowing the ending would definitely be worth it!

What did you like best about this story?

It was a beautiful love story, just like Me Before You, but couldn't have been more different than Moyes' previous book. I thought she did a great job with historical fiction. The characters faced decisions that were life-changing - nothing black and white - and she worked through them in ways that felt real and believable.

What does Clare Corbett and Penny Rawlins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The accents are fantastic and the emotions from their performances were just wonderful.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, absolutely - I would've driven cross-country just to keep listening!

Any additional comments?

If you loved Me Before You, definitely try this book. Just know going in that they're completely different. JoJo Moyes is a masterful storyteller and I will definitely be watching for her next masterpiece!

15 people found this helpful

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Couldn't Understand the Reader

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

No one.

If you’ve listened to books by Jojo Moyes before, how does this one compare?

NA

Would you be willing to try another one of Clare Corbett and Penny Rawlins ’s performances?

No.

Any additional comments?

The reader's accent was hard to understand. And her decibel range was extremely bothersome, with some parts virtually inaudible while others screeched at you so you had to turn down the volume, making the next quiet part all the more inaudible.

11 people found this helpful

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Sophie's choice

The book cover fooled me into expecting a more light weight romantic historical fiction. What I found was a heartbreaking portrait of World War 1 occupation, the complex issues of stolen war property, and the solace that a single portrait provided to two women grieving the loss of their husbands 100 years apart. Told in parallel time lines are the stories of Sophie LeFevre, the subject of the painting by her husband, Edouard, now gone to war, and the current story of Liv Halston, the current owner who received the portrait as a wedding present from her husband, now dead. To both women the portrait is far more than an object – it is the only tangible connection to their husbands whose absence breaks their hearts. Both women must make hard decisions about what they value most and why. Repeated more than once is the line “once it is done, it cannot be undone.”

The characters in both timelines are finely drawn, showing the strength, fear, humor and love all of the characters bring to their relationships. Even the Kommandant is more than just a cardboard villain. The dilemma of ownership of the picture is laid out with balance so that both sides are understandable. The narration was good, although the French reader tended to get overly dramatic with some of her characters. The only weakness was how the ending was written, but I won’t comment further to avoid giving too much away. The story was strong enough to hold my undivided attention over the two days it took to listen, and Sophie in particular has become a literary character I will hold onto for a while.

10 people found this helpful