Reader's Comments
The Girl You Left Behind By Jo Jo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind

by Jojo Moyes

PBR Book Review:

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes is a moving and thought-provoking story. It has two female protagonists who tell their story. Sophie lives in a small French village occupied by the Germans in 1916. Her husband has gone to war, leaving her to run the business and care for her family. In 2012 Olivia is mourning the sudden death of her husband and trying to come to terms with her current life. A portrait painted by Sophie's husband before he goes to war connects them. It is what binds this story together as Moyes weaves an intricate tale of love and sacrifice. As the story unfolds, both women face conflict and make difficult decisions. I found Sophie's story more interesting, but I am partial to war stories. You will quickly become invested in all the characters. They are well thought out and likable. This story is emotional and well written. The Book Club discussion could last for hours as you dissect the lives of these two women. I loved it!

Book Club Talking Points:

Talking Points: The story portrays women who are judged by society for the decisions they make. It's emotionally charged and asks many questions that do not have clear answers. This book will provide a lively discussion.

*Author Website:

*Other Books by Same Author: After You, Me Before You, Paris for One and Other Stories, The Last Letter From Your Lover, Silver Bay, The Ship of Brides, One Plus One

*Discussion Questions

1. 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?

2. Does Édouard’s portrait of Sophie capture who she already was or who she had the potential to become?

3. Before you knew the truth about Liliane Béthune, how did you feel about the treatment she received at the hands of the other villagers?

4. 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?

5. Unlike Hélène, Aurélien angrily condemns Sophie’s relationship with the Kommandant. Why do you think Aurélien reacted as he did?

6. Have you ever experienced real hunger? If you were a French villager in St. Péronne, how far might you go in order to feed yourself and your loved ones?

7. How did you think Sophie’s story would end? Were you surprised by what Liv uncovered?

8. 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?

9. 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?

10. 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—made their claim any less worthy?

11. Why does Liv ultimately choose to try to save the painting rather than her home? What would you have done in her position?

12. 10 Is Paul right to fear that Liv would eventually resent him for the loss of the painting?

13. 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?

Book Summary
Penguin Books (September 27, 2012 )- Fiction - 480 pages
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.
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