Book Review- The Girl You Left behind by JoJo Moyes
Good news about this book. I actually finished it about a week ago. And I wrote this post on the weekend, so it’s all fresh in my mind. And let me tell you, it was a great book. My preferred type of book is historical fiction. The title of this book does sound like it’s a love story (and there are some lovey-dovey parts in there), but it’s a lot more interesting than that. Personally, I like books with a little bit of mystery in it. I like it when you get the big reveal at the end (which is why I like some decorating shows, don’t tell my mom). This book traces the roots of a painting that was lost at some point during WWII. Fast forward to modern times, and the painting is sitting in Liv Halston’s apartment. She has no clue how it came to be in her possession, until someone she does not expect wants to take it away. The narration jumps from WWII to modern times, but it is still easy to follow. Here are the memorable quotes:
1. And as Monsieur Lefèvre worked, glancing to and fro from his easel, barely speaking, it slowly dawned on me that I did not feel admired and important, as I had secretly thought I might but as if he saw straight through me. I had, it seemed, become a thing, an object, of no more significance than the green bottle or the apples in the still-life canvas by the door (43) .
This is a huge moment for Sophie (WWII girl). She has broken down a barrier by allowing a stranger to paint her, and she feels so vulnerable. It may seem so breaching, but within the story, I found this quote to hold so much power.
2. Instead I had held on to this ridiculous notion that that by allowing myself to become a thing, a vessel, I was somehow I was lessening my infidelity (115).
I am in the boat where I believe that a cheater is always a cheater. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, or if they truly will never do it again, I don’t think it can be justified in any sense. So after this character (no naming names for this one), they feel the pressure and they understand just how awful it. They pain that they have to live with presses on their personal life.
3. Do you know how I long to watch you laughing on the other side of the table and know that I am the cause of your happiness (117)?
To me, this is love. This man is apart from his wife in times of war, and writes to her of his pain of missing their life together (hence the italics). I thought this was beautiful. It is so simple, yet so powerful. I think it is wonderful to know that a laugh means that they are happy with you. It doesn’t take huge romantic gestures to show intimacy or to prove love.
4. “Lust for life, my darling!” he would exclaim. “Passion! If you have none you’re a dead thing (135).”
In sociology (there’s my first year of university sneaking out), there are theories that say if people aren’t connected to their society, then they are more likely to become deviant members of it. Now I believe that finding your passion in life is similar to finding your purpose. I found my purpose through my passion. Passions help people find a personal reason to live. Living for other people is wonderful, but if you don’t find one thing that is only your own, then I don’t believe that you can be 100% happy.
5. “I’ll be back at three o’clock and I’ll call in sick to the restaurant and we can swear a lot and think up medieval punishments for fuckwit men who blow hot and cold. I’ve got some modeling clay upstairs that I use for voodoo dolls. Can you get some cocktail sticks ready? Or some skewers? I’m all out (195).”
Sometimes, you can find a friend in unlikely spaces. Liv Halston finds herself with an acquaintance from the past that ends up being the breath of fresh air, and the friend, she needs. I laughed, and then smiled, at this quote. This could be the perfect way to get back at nasty men with your best friend.
6. But it is also, he notices now, expressionless, as if she has grown used to hiding her feelings. Or perhaps it’s Botox (286).
Emotionless robot? Or Botox? One can never be too sure these days. Isn’t that sad? I don’t know a lot about Botox, but does enough really erase emotions from your face? I don’t know, but I laughed at this.
7. “Nobody listens anymore. Everyone knows what they want to hear, but nobody actually listens (347).”
It’s the classic wise quote from the random old person. It’s true though. When is the last time you sat down with a good friend, or you significant other, or your mom and just had a real conversation? Not just about your day, but about everything. Including them. When is the last time you learned something new about the most important person in your life?
This book was actually great. Historical fiction, mystery, a little bit of romance, easy to read, and easy to follow. I give this book 4/5 stars (1 being boring and not understandable, and 5 being life changing and jaw dropping-ly brilliant). It has many heartwarming sections, and I think this book goes really well with a winter setting and getting all cozy by the fire.
As usual, let me know if you have any book suggestions!