What’s it all about?:
At the heart of Jojo Moyes’ heartbreaking new novel, The Girl You Left Behind, are two haunting love stories – that of Sophie and Edouard Lefevre in France during the First World War, and, nearly a century later, Liv Halston and her husband David.
Honeymoon in Paris takes place several years before the events to come in The Girl You Left Behind when both couples have just married. Sophie, a provincial girl, is swept up in the glamour of Belle Epoque Paris but discovers that loving a feted artist like Edouard brings undreamt of complications. Following in Sophie’s footsteps a hundred years later, Liv, after a whirlwind romance, finds her Parisian honeymoon is not quite the romantic getaway she had been hoping for…
This enthralling self-contained story will have you falling in love with Liv and Sophie, and with Paris then and now, and it is the perfect appetizer for the The Girl You Left Behind, a spellbinding story of love, devotion and passion in the hardest of times.
What did I think?:
Honeymoon in Paris is a novella meant as a sort of prequel to the author’s book The Girl You Left Behind. Within it Jojo Moyes uses different chapters to narrate two love stories of women on their honeymoon to set the scene of two different time periods which provides a heart-warming and somewhat comforting read. The first story is that of Olivia (Liv) Halston in the present time (2002) and her new husband David, a much in demand architect. A bit too in demand, in fact as we find out when we meet Liv at the top of the Eiffel Tower, on her honeymoon but very much on her own. It turns out that one of David’s big jobs which involves commissioning a home for the rich Goldstein family means that he has to leave her to her own devices to attend important meetings. Liv is understandably crushed and starts to worry that perhaps she has made a mistake in marrying him. She is well-known by her friends to be impulsive and only knew David for three months before he proposed, a sum total of six months now they are married.
Chapter Two and we switch to our second love story in Paris, 1912 where former shop girl Sophie and acclaimed but small artist Edouard Lefevre have recently wed and are the picture of wedded bliss. Most days they don’t know where their next meal is coming from if Edouard hasn’t managed to sell a painting but they are both incredibly happy. It probably doesn’t help that Edouard is a generous man and Sophie finds that a few of his so-called “friends” who have bought paintings from him are in debt to him for as long as seven months. When Sophie discovers a couple of his friends in a bar with exceedingly fat wallets she takes it upon herself to be debt collector for her husband. A fight breaks out when one of the men insults Sophie and Edouard hears it but she manages to get the money and they have a wonderful meal that evening. Things don’t stay too rosy in Paris-dise however when Sophie is introduced to some of the girls that Edouard has painted. According to one particular venomous woman, who still holds a bit of a candle for Edouard, he is “a man of certain appetites,” (ooh, my!) who slept with all the women he painted, and this honeymoon period he has with Sophie is just a phase, he will return to his old behaviour, guaranteed. Sophie is obviously distraught with this woman’s claims and confronts Edouard with his past.
The two stories do end with a happy resolution, I have to say as this is only a prequel to the story that comes in The Girl You Left Behind which also follows the two couples. I think the author does a great job of telling two very different love stories set in different time periods. Personally, I preferred Sophie and Edouard’s story as I just fell in love with their characters, especially Sophie who seemed a bit more fiesty than our current day heroine, Liv. I also enjoyed the tiny cross-over in one chapter where Liv sees a painting in a gallery by our war-time hero of the past, Edouard Lefevre. I think it was also a nice way of explaining that marriage and a relationship isn’t all about the honeymoon period, it requires work and disagreements are inevitable, despite the intense love you may have for someone. I have to admit it wasn’t my favourite of Jojo Moyes work, but I do highly recommend The Girl You Left Behind as a beautiful, must-read novel. This is a nice little prequel that gives you a great introduction to the characters but isn’t a necessary read if you haven’t read the novel and can also be read quite easily as a stand alone.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT JOJO MOYES READ: Night Music, coming soon!