Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes book review

I like Jojo Moyes' writing style.  She does, however, tackle topics that are tough to write about without falling into cliche, or worse - parody.  And she deserves a lot of credit for that effort.  I loved Me Before You, about a paraplegic former master-of-the-universe and his nurse.  I initially declined to read that book because the topic made my eyes roll.  I then changed my mind after seeing a complimentary review and got a lot out of the book.  The story dealt with all sorts of and death, our fears, a loss of control and horrible injury.  Moyes did not fall into cliche.

In The Girl You Left Behind, Moyes takes on another tough topic.  It has two main characters that alternate and during different time frames.  The first is a brave woman in occupied France during WWI.  The second is a widow stumbling on after the death of her husband.  Where they intersect is that the second woman has a painting of the first stolen by the Germans during the war (or was it) and the surviving family wants it back.

Moyes is good at drawing me into her creations and carrying me along with her story.  The book does that very well.  It's actually a fun read, despite the subject matter.  The weakness for me in this book is that I honestly didn't like either of the two main women characters.  They both see the world only through their own lens and self interest.  One could argue that Sophie, the woman during WWI, does a lot for others...but she just didn't win my sympathy anyway (hard to do given her dire circumstances).

I still recommend the book because it's a great read...and I think the bias is on my end...we all get drawn to different people.  My pet peeve is characters like this; most readers tend to love them as it's only by exploring such inner conflicts, which includes a selfish weighing of what we really want, that we get to know a character thoroughly.  I ended up really enjoying this book and am glad I read it.  Anyone who reads it...I'd love your thoughts....

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