The Girl You Left Behind wasn’t what I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised by that. Moyes has crafted an unusual dual-narrative blend of historical fiction and legal thriller that grapples with some of moral and ethical questions arising from the effects of war and keeps the modern-day romantic thread from overwhelming the rest of the story.
Moyes’ great strength here is the development of her protagonists. Sophie and Liv, her two primary characters separated by nearly a century and connected by nothing more tangible than a painting, emerge as women facing down very different difficult circumstances each in her own way. Neither always makes the best choices, but the choices they do make feel true to both character and context.