26 May 2013

The Girl You Left Behind; Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left BehindThe Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting blend of historical and current fiction, with a painting and art theft as the link.

I kept having to remind myself that the historical part was set in World War I, not II, because the story of the German occupation of France was so familiar from WWII books (just as was the train rides and work camps). The art theft in question(of the titular painting) from then is compared to the Nazi thefts and treated in much the same way, rousing the same passions.

To be honest, the historical part's familiarity was a large part of what cost it a star: excepting the time frame, there was nothing new here in how the village was isolated, starved, commandeered and terrorized by the Germans or how people who were forced to work with them were often accused of collaboration. The only interesting question (for me) was how far Sophie would go to be reunited with her husband. How the painting from that small village to Liv Halston's wall was more interesting and I wish we'd had more of the search for provenance, or of other cases that could be used as precedent.

One question that I wish Liv's attorneys had asked was why the Lefever family felt that the painting was theirs. It had been a gift from Edouard to his wife Sophie, so shouldn't Sophie's descendents rightfully own the painting? The case's conclusion was also a little reliant on a convenient coincidence.

ARC provided by publisher.

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