Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

I did another fun review for Isthmus; here is the link. Click through and read it, then come back and read the rest of this post, because I have more to say than I had room for over there.

The aspect of this book that intrigued me most was Moyes's sensitive handling of the issue of wartime collaboration. Sophie's relationship with the Kommandant is complicated, in part because he is not entirely evil. Moyes expertly describes the connections that can be forged in difficult circumstances, sometimes even against our will. I have read the stories of what happened to female collaborators in France after World War II and I am horrified to think that most of them probably had very little choice about their actions. Like Sophie, they were most likely cornered, coerced by offers of food or shelter, and desperate to protect their families.

But wait, this is book is not sad! I just happened to latch on to this piece as a new way of thinking about an issue I took for granted. On a lighter note, I had the pleasure of meeting Jojo Moyes on Saturday evening when she read from this book at an event sponsored by Madison's new Central Library, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Book Festival. She was a wonderful speaker--warm, funny, and charming. Despite the fact that Madison was her last stop on a multiweek tour she was unflagging in her enthusiasm for the library and for the joy of reading. Here we are, enjoying the evening (Moyes on the left, me at right).

(Book 25, 2013)


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