At the center of The Girl You Left Behind, is a painting. Created by a Paris artist named Edouard Lefevre of his wife Sophie, we first become aware of it when Sophie’s tale begins, during the WWI German Occupation in France.
The German Kommandant is drawn to the painting when he first sees it in the cafe and bar run by Sophie’s family, where he has ordered Sophie and her sister to prepare meals for the German army. Sometimes, the Kommandant allows them to have the leftovers, and occasionally talks to Sophie as if they are just two people, not enemy and captive.
His obsession for the painting, therefore, leads to a daring attempt on Sophie’s part to reunite with her husband.
Almost 100 years later, in London, a woman named Liv Halston is trying to recover after the death of her husband David four years before. While out one evening, she happens to meet a man named Paul, who coincidentally works for a company with the mission of recovering stolen art for families. She does not know this, however, until awhile later. The discovery leads to a falling out between them, as they line up on opposing sides in this battle over the art.
How will the painting’s rightful ownership be determined? What will happen to the newly developing relationship between Paul and Liv? Who is the plaintiff in the case, and is his arrogance a key factor in finding out the truth? What does Liv discover on a special journey to France? And what secrets about Sophie’s fate will come out?
A story about love, art, family, and how sometimes you simply must fight for all of these things, because otherwise, a piece of your heart might be lost along the way. I loved this book!
The author does an excellent job of reeling the reader into the story, whether it’s the world set in the early 1900s, or the contemporary world. I felt as though I were walking amongst them, absorbed in their drama and facing their challenges with them. The settings, the characters, and the themes were captivating. And I loved how the secrets unfolded in layers, until the final denouement. Fans of this author, and those who enjoy stories about these themes, will love this book. Five stars.