"It was never about the painting, Sophie."And there it was, confirmation of my fate.3.25 stars. I loved so many things about this book, especially the historical story of Sophie and her Edouard. Their legacy was worth at least 4 and a half stars. Unfortunately, I felt the modern day story of Liv and Paul to have floundered on for such a lengthy amount of time that it almost took the focus away from the girl in the painting (who was in my opinion the star of the book and the reason for why everything was set in motion), and I could only give their portion of the story 2 stars at best.Even with the Paul and Liv legal battle being drawn out for far too long, I am still happily loving so much about this book. I am glad that I read it. Jojo Moyes is an author who knows how to draw emotion out of a reader. Her depiction of a simple woman living in a French town under occupation from the German military in WWI (yes, I was shocked that someone decided to choose WWI instead of WWII for their story) had me stuck to the pages. Part I : 1917 - Sophie's husband has been captured and moved to a prison camp. The most precious thing she has to remember him by is a painting that he created in her likeness, titled The Girl You Left Behind. This painting is so captivating, that it seems to enchant everyone who looks at it, including the Kommandant who is holding Sophie hostage. The painting sets in motion a series of events which has Sophie bartering the things that are most precious to her for one chance to see her husband again."What? Are you going to call me a whore too?Helene looked at her feet. "I would not have danced with a German, Sophie."Part II : Present Day - Liv is now in possession of The Girl You Left Behind, a gift from her now deceased husband. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, she learns to care for a man named Paul, who also has an unusual interest in the painting. Will these lovers-turned-opponents find a way to settle their differences, or will the painting destroy both of their lives?"Look, I know this probably doesn't make any sense, but could we possibly forget about the case? Just for one evening?" Her voice is too vulnerable. "Could we just be two people again?"Part II does include a few stolen moments of the life of Sophie from Part I, but I wanted more. The heartbreaking and intense life of this couple separated by war truly deserved more attention than their story got.Sophie : But I refuse to take it down, no matter what Helene says. It reminds me of you, and of a time when we were happy together. It reminds me that humankind is capable of love and beauty as well as destruction.Edouard : The men here clutch photographs of their loved ones like talismans, protection against the dark - crumpled, dirty images endowed with the properties of treasure. I need no photograph to conjure you before me, Sophie. I need only to close my eyes to recall your face, your voice, your scent, and you cannot know how much you comfort me. Know, my darling, that I mark each day not, like my fellow soldiers, as one that I am grateful to survive, but thanking God that each means I must surely be twenty-four hours closer to returning to you.Love stories like this do not come along very often. The horror of war was not left out, but what shone through was the determination of loved ones to find each other again. Although I would have wanted to balance the historical and modern day sides of the story in a more equal fashion, I do understand why the modern day battle for the painting was important. Both Sophie and Liv had to fight to hold on to what they valued, while dealing with the effects of being cast out from their comfort zones. Both women were truly fighters. Normally, I am not a fan of epilogues, but I loved the way this story ended - emotional, yet still satisfying. This was a beautifully written story with a few unbalanced moments, but I appreciate what Moyes was trying to accomplish. This is not the first book I have read by this author, and it will certainly not be the last.