It’s always tricky to rate a book which has dual storyline specially if it’s a combination of historic and contemporary .
The first part of the story takes place in 1916 during the first world war where we are introduced with ‘A girl you left behind’ portrait featuring Sophie, painted by her beloved husband Edouard who was then serving in the war. The story takes a different turn when a German Kommandant sets his eyes on that beautiful portrait and gets attracted to it instantly. Not knowing what attracted him the most - was it the real Sophie or the girl in the portrait? he asks her to spend a night with him in turn he promises Sophie to let her meet her husband.
The second part takes place almost a century later in 2006. Now the portrait “A girl you left behind’ is with Liv, a wedding gift from her late husband David. A gift that she had intended to keep with her forever. But everything goes upside down when she meets Paul who works for company that recovers age old stolen artwork. Having no idea what this may lead to, both Liv and Paul get emotionally and romantically involved with each other. Problem starts when Paul sees the portrait in Liv’s house and asks her to return it the original owner.
I got hooked to the initial part of the story very easily. I loved Shopie, her determination, her never say die attitude towards life. But it took some time for me to get accustomed with the second part. Liv was definitely not as strong as Sophie. There was lot of contrast between these two main characters. Though Liv’s situation was quite different and was not as pathetic as Sophies’ yet her way of taking life haphazardly was something I didn’t like. For me the second part of the story got more interesting once Paul came into Liv’s life and changed everything. I do admit the story felt dragged at some parts and even got predictable at times yet in spite of all these what I loved about this book most was Jojo’s beautiful writing, her way of storytelling, her characterization both were just excellent. She knows how to keep her readers engrossed through her writing, emotionally or otherwise which connected me with this book for sure. Will definitely keep reading more from her.