Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes does it again! I resisted reading her previous book, Me Before You, because I didn't think I'd like it based on the premise. But when my book club chose it for discussion, I reluctantly jumped in and surprisingly LOVED IT. And for whatever stupid reason I wasn't sure I'd like this book either. 

Well, it does have two plotlines: one historical and the other contemporary. Y'all know I have issues with multiple narrators and hopping back and forth in time. I ALWAYS like the historical bits best, and the contemporary stuff usually pales in comparison. But much to my delight, this book was very well balanced! I should've known Jojo wouldn't steer me wrong. 

Sophie is the wife of an artist living in German-occupied France during WWI. She's spirited and hard-headed--not one to bow easily to the Germans, even when they invade her village AND the hotel she runs with her sister. The family is forced to cook for the soldiers and her relationship with their commander is odd. Friendly enough, but strained given the circumstances. And he seems oddly fond of a painting of Sophie, which was done by her now-missing husband. On the flip-side, Liv is the owner of the Sophie painting in the present. Her husband is deceased, her finances are strained, and there's a legal battle over the ownership of the painting, which is also one of Liv's most prized possessions. 

I was PISSED the first time this book switched from Sophie's time period to Liv's. I admit, I threw a fit on Twitter, and Trish laughed at me. But eventually, once I calmed down and read some more, I enjoyed both time periods in this book very much. Of course, I still liked Sophie's story the most, but they were integrated in a way that made the whole thing extremely enjoyable, and through Moyes' expert characterization, I genuinely cared for everyone in the book. 

I'll just stop resisting Jojo Moyes books now. I heart them!

Pub. Date: August 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Format: E-book
ISBN: 9780670026616
Source: Purchased by me!


33 comments:

  1. I really can't decide if I will enjoy Jojo Moyes. I have avoided her so far, although that could have something to do with all the fuss about the one book of hers and I am (usually) put off by fuss. Still, I really think I should give her a try. Particularly as this is WW1 based. Glad you enjoyed it :D

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    1. I was REALLY hesitant, but they're quick reads, good topics, wonderful characterization. I'd put these into the "slump buster" category for me. I hope you like if you decide to try one. :)

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  2. You know what's really interesting to me about dual narratives? When the book has a past narrative alongside a modern day narrative I always prefer the historical story far more. Not a super exciting revelation in and of itself, but when I think about how very little full out historical fiction novels I've read and enjoyed I'm sort of baffled. So perhaps the dual narrative format works better for me than I think?

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    1. REALLY? That is sort of interesting, Brooke. Maybe you need the contemporary thread to break up the historical? I've enjoyed lots of straightforward historicals so I prefer those stand-alone narratives rather than the hopping back and forth.

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  3. I'm glad to see Moyes didn't disappoint this time around. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

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    1. I hope you like it as much as I did!

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  4. You are so right, Jojo Moyes is an excellent slump buster. That is a perfect way to describe her. I'm eager to read some of her other books -- maybe not Me before You right away? Maybe save that one until I know I definitely like her? -- so it was a joy to find that my library has a whole bunch of her ebooks.

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    1. Thanks! She definitely works for me to get me reading when it's slow. I had the biggest doubts about Me Before You, but I may have actually liked it the most. I would urge you to go on and take the plunge with any of her books, but don't discount Me Before You.

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  5. It is hard to find those past/present books where both stories are equally (or at least almost equally) enjoyable. I can't wait to read this one!

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    1. Yes it is! I hope you like it!

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  6. For some reason, I'm still avoiding Moyes' books. Maybe for the same reasons you did. This book sounds pretty interesting though.

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    1. It is! It's hard to say which one I liked better. Me Before You was definitely a surprise since I didn't expect to like it at all.

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  7. I'm still resisting Me Before You ..... I know I need to just give in and read it.

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    1. Ha! Do! I want to know what you think!

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  8. Okay, so, I didn't read this. Because I have it queued up on my Nook to read next! I did get the guist that you liked it? So I'm going to make sure I give it a try despite the whole slump thing. It's got to go away sooner or later, right? And I DID finish a book yesterday, so things are looking up! Cross fingers!

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    1. I did like it! I hope you do, too!

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  9. I thought Sophie's story was much stronger; Liv's fell a little flat- she was a bit one-dimensional for me. This frustrates me when authors attempt to split the narrative and fail, so it did tarnish my view a little. I did like Me Before You, though.

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    1. She was. I liked her more than I thought I would (Liv) and cared more about her storyline than I thought I would, but I think part of that might've had to do with the fact that Sophie's story was still nicely woven through Liv's.

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  10. I loved this one, too. I've learned not to question the Jojo!

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  11. I kind of wish my book club would just decide to read one of her books. I still have an audio review copy of My Before You that I've been meaning to get to, but this one sounds even more appealing...

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    1. I hope you like it when you get around to it. I seriously wouldn't have read either of these without my book club. I <3 them!

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  12. I haven't read anything by her but it sounds great! I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble with those present-and-past storylines. I'm nearly always disappointed and find the present storyline just a plot device. Makes me wonder if publishers think readers need someone talking to us in the present?

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    1. Yep, same here. I'm really getting irked with the dual storyline trend. Maybe that's their rationale. Ugh!

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  13. I put the other book on my TBR based on all these posts I'm seeing...figured I'd better get in on this author.

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  14. I didn't know this author, but well, what you have said about the book seems like my kind of favourite read! I love when there are two storylines, with secrets of the past and all that, so I think I will look for this book :)
    I would never have put my eye on it with that cover; I think that book clubs makes us discover good reads, which is fantastic :)

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    1. I hope you love it! I don't care for her covers either, so I needed a push to read this one.

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  15. Clearly resistance is futile! I liked Sophie's story better, too. Partly because I just didn't buy that Liv would care so much to hang on to that painting, particularly when it meant she would ruin her husband's legacy. But I still cared enough about her to get over it.

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    1. Yeah, that was a bit of a stretch for me. But she struck me as wishy-washy in general, so I could buy that wishy-washiness. lol

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  16. I loooooooooooooved Sophie, but Liv really rubbed me the wrong way. No matter what the origin of the painting, for her to believe it was rightfully hers when there was a huge potential for it to have been stolen. . . ugh, that ticked me off.

    But Sophie, she was awesome.

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  17. Commiserate with your piss...erm, annoyance at the time change. So much so, that I didn't finish the novel once I was in about fifty pages. Probably to my detriment, not Jo Jo's. :)

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  18. I'm currently reading this one and pissed that I had to leave Sophie is such a precarious situation!!!

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