Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

thegirlyouleftbehind

The book starts off with Sophie dreaming of food. It is 1916, France is under German occupation and Sophie, like the rest of France,have hardly anything to eat. Food and supplies are scarce and at the mercy of the Germans. Sophie and her sister Helene, have been trying their best to feed their children and kid brother, whatever they manage to forage, but life is not easy, to say the least. Sophie ends up making some tough choices which help her keep the children fed, but also ends up earning the wrath of her village people.

Sophie’s husband, Edouard Lefevre, is an artist who has gone to fight at the front. They adore each other, and with him gone, all she has of him is a picture he painted of hers. That picture catches the eye of the German Kommandant. Sophie is put in a horrible position of deciding how far she would go in order to be able to be back with her husband. How far would she go for love?

Years later, in present day Britain, that picture of Sophie, ‘The Girl You Left Behind’ is with Liv Halston. A young widow, whose husband, David, bought her that picture because it reminded him of her. With David gone, the picture has a lot of emotional value for Liv, who has been unable to move on from her husband’s memory, even 4 years after his death. All her friends’ efforts to make Liv move on, has been of no use.

After four years of living with David’s memories, Liv meets Paul, with whom she is finally able to connect. Liv finally manages to come close to some happiness, when it is snatched away from her again. Paul is a detective who traces old portraits which had been stolen from their original owners, and ‘The Girl You Left Behind’ is one such portrait. The Lefevre family had been trying to locate this portrait for sentimental reasons. Liv, of course, has her own sentimental reasons to hold on to it as well. Both parties refuse to budge, and the case reaches the court. Not only does Liv have a lot to lose, just how much, she realizes as the case unfolds, she is also fighting what she thinks of as Paul’s betrayal.

It was a beautiful read. Love so strong that it is worth fighting for. Both Sophie and Liv, separated by almost a century, between themselves, are fighting for their loves, for what they believe in. Both stand to lose everything they have, but both decide that it is worth fighting for. It was a book that takes you through emotions, through hardships and tough times. It pulls at your heartstrings, makes you wish and wish that a magic wand would sort things out – for both women. I really liked the way the picture touched and affected people across time. Although I have to say, in some ways, Liv just felt stubborn. Sophie had a life and death situation, which was well worth fighting for. Liv, to me, possibly the practical me, felt that she was fighting for something which didn’t resonate as much. But that might just be me. Even so, it was a great read.

A beautifully narrated story, one which will keep engrossed till the very end. A page turner. I would rate it a 4/5.

About the Author

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist. Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full-time novelist.

This book is available from Amazon(UK) and FlipKart(India).

The Last Letter from Your Lover by JoJo Moyes

TGND recommended this book to me, and I have come to trust her recommendations completely. Moreover, having loved Moyes’ Me Before You, I couldn’t wait to get hold of this one.

LastLettertoyourlover

It is the 1960s. Jennifer Stirling wakes up in a London Hospital, clueless about who she is or how she ended up in the hospital. All she could gather was that she was in an accident and was the wife of an extremely successful business magnate Laurence Stirling. Despite her husband’s obvious concern for her, Jennifer feels extremely uncomfortable in his presence, and unable to understand why she feels so uncomfortable in the privileged life that she and her husband seemed to live. Something just doesn’t feel right. She feels like a stranger in what is supposed to be her life. In her quest to understand her life before the accident, she starts looking for clues and comes across a bunch of letters, passionate letter to her, written by a mysterious ‘B’. She still couldn’t remember what happened in her life before the accident, but it was clear that her initial discomfort with her husband was something that stayed from her life before the accident. And that B was someone very dear to her, if only she could remember who he was!

Some 40 years later, journalist Ellie, is going through documents in the library archives of the newspaper that she works in. She has been assigned to write an article about life in the 60s by her boss, when she comes across a letter that piques her curiosity. Ellie needs to find out more. Completely intrigued and fascinated by the first letter, can’t seem to let go without finding out more about what seems to be a passionate but seemingly ill-fated love. As she digs into the decades old passion, she wonders if she has a lesson to learn as well.

I loved the book, loved the way the author has spun the romance, with the unexpected twists. Most of the book is about Jennifer and the way she finds her way in the maze that her memory seems to have become.

A beautifully written book. A simple enough story, handled in a beautiful way, it takes us through emotions, passions and life, with its unpredictability and uncertainty. The characters are real, with flaws, and warts and all. It is an absolute page turner, totally unputdownable. I couldn’t wait to find out what happens in the end. A book that left me moist-eyed by the end. I also loved the cover. Something about it, just called out to me. I would rate it a 4/5. So have you read this yet? And if so, how did you find it?

About the Author

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist. Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full-time novelist.

This book is available from Amazon(UK) and FlipKart(India).

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I had heard about Jojo Moyes, but had never read a book by her. I came across this book in the ‘Just Returned’ section in my library and picked it up. Just to give it a try.

MeBeforeYou

Lou Clark finds her self unemployed, with no advance notice, and has no clue what she is supposed to do next. She clings to the familiar. She has lived in the same place all her life, worked in a tea shop, buttering tea cakes, and is suddenly pushed out of her comfort zone, when forced by her lack of skills and jobs, into becoming a carer for Will. A job that she has neither the experience for, nor the interest. The only thing that is attractive is the pay check. Of which she and her family are in dire need of. To add to that, Will is not the easiest patient to take care of.

Will Traynor, is an attractive young man, in his thirties, with his life ahead of him, which looks completely bleak to him after an accident renders him a quadriplegic. His whole world changed in an instant. From an active, interesting life in London, his life is now full of hospital visits, round the clock carers and physiotherapy. He feels low, joyless and knows what exactly he needs to do to change all that.

Until Lou bursts into his life with colour and eccentric tastes, slowly chipping away at his grumpy exterior. The time that they spend together changes things for both of them.  Will, physically trapped in a life that he hates, and Lou, mentally trapped in a life that she has got used to, and refuses to change. So much so that she hangs on with a boy friend who she knows that she does not love.

I wish I could write more but anything more, and I think I would give away the story, and really this is a story you should read blind, without knowing much about the plot. Let me tell you what I liked about the story though. Both Will and Lou are believable characters. You can understand Will’s frustration, being paralysed neck down. His reactions to anyone who tries to help him. You connect with Lou, her whole exuberant personality, her insecurities as well as her single-minded focus when she decides to do something that she feels is important. She is a wonderful character. I loved Lou’s family, cute, and crazy, while being supportive.

So is it a romance? Well, there is romance, but there is so much more. So much more. It addresses a highly controversial topic and deals with it in an extremely sensitive manner. It makes you think, to say the least.

You end up empathizing with every character involved. You can’t help wonder what you would have done as Will, Lou or Will’s mum and dad. Such a tough topic and what I really liked was the way the author has handled it. Sensitively and beautifully.

It is a book that makes you cry, makes you debate with yourself, makes you wish you could magic away such situations with a magic wand. And ultimately, you understand the stance that the different characters take. I am so glad that I picked up this book.

It is an excellent read, but do be prepared to go on an emotional roller coaster. I loved it and would definitely recommend it.

I would rate it a 4.5/5.

About the Author

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist. Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

This book is available at Amazon and Flipkart.