THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND
Another New York Times bestseller by the author of Me Before You and One Plus One—a spellbinding story of two women united in their fight for what they love most. Paris, 1916. Sophie Lefèvre must keep her family safe while her adored husband, Édouard, fights at the front. When their town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Sophie is forced to serve them every evening at her hotel. From the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait—painted by her artist husband—a dangerous obsession is born, one that will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision.
Another New York Times bestseller by the author of Me Before You and One Plus One—a spellbinding story of two women united in their fight for what they love most. Paris, 1916. Sophie Lefèvre must keep her family safe while her adored husband, Édouard, fights at the front. When their town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Sophie is forced to serve them every evening at her hotel. From the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait—painted by her artist husband—a dangerous obsession is born, one that will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision. Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before his sudden death. After a chance encounter reveals the portrait’s true worth, a battle begins over its troubled history and Liv’s world is turned upside all over again.
“Moyes (Me Before You) has created a riveting depiction of a wartime occupation that has mostly faded from memory. Liv and Sophie are so real in their faults, passion, and bravery that the reader is swept along right to the end. This one is hard to put down!”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Jojo Moyes builds on her strengths in this moving and accomplished new novel. As she did in the best-selling Me Before You, she asks readers to think in fresh ways about a morally complex issue. . . . The Girl You Left Behind is strong, provocative, satisfying fiction.”
—The Washington Post
“Moyes (Me Before You) writes with such clarity that one can almost see the eponymous 100-year-old painting at the center of her wonderful new novel. . . . an uncommonly good love story.“
“Lovely and wry, Moyes’s newest is captivating and bittersweet.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
At one point, the Kommandant asks Sophie if they can just “be two people” (p. 72). What did you make of this—did you ever find yourself sympathizing with the Kommandant or any of the German soldiers? Is there room for sympathy on both sides?
Does Édouard’s portrait of Sophie capture who she already was or who she had the potential to become?
Before you knew the truth about Liliane Béthune, how did you feel about the treatment she received at the hands of the other villages?
Sophie strikes a deal with the Kommandant in hopes that he, in turn, will reunite her with Édouard. Would you be willing to make a similar trade? Would most men appreciate Sophie’s sacrifice?
Unlike Hélène, Aurélian angrily condemns Sophie’s relationship with the Kommandant. Why do you think Aurelian reacted as he did?
Have you ever experienced real hunger? If you were a French village in St. Péronne, how far might you go in order to feed yourself and your loved ones?
How did you think Sophie’s story would end? Were you surprised by what Liv uncovered?
When Liv takes a group of underprivileged students on a tour of Conaghy Securities, most of them had never considered architecture as an art form. Why is this type of cultural exposure important for young people of all backgrounds?
Liv feels that she cannot go on without the portrait of Sophie—it is that important to her. Do you think a material object should hold such significance? Have you ever loved a piece of art or another object so much that you couldn’t bear to part with it?
Do you think the present-day Lefèvre family’s interest in the financial worth of The Girl You Left Behind—and their apparent lack of interest in its beauty—mad their claim any less worthy?
Why does Liv ultimately choose to try to save the painting rather than her home? What would you have done in her position?
Is Paul right to fear that Liv would eventually resent him for the loss of the painting?
In general, if a stolen artwork is legally acquired by its current owner, whose claim is more legitimate: the new owner or the original owner and his or her descendants? Should there be a statute of limitations? What if the current owner is a museum?