While Liv’s more pedestrian story is less romantic than Sophie’s and far less nuanced, Moyes is a born storyteller who makes...

THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND

The newest novel by Moyes (Me Before You, 2012, etc.) shares its title with a fictional painting that serves as catalyst in linking two love stories, one set in occupied France during World War I, the other in 21st-century London.

In a French village in 1916, Sophie is helping the family while her husband, Édouard, an artist who studied with Matisse, is off fighting. Sophie’s pluck in standing up to the new German kommandant in the village draws his interest. An art lover, he also notices Édouard's portrait of Sophie, which captures her essence (and the kommandant's adoration). Arranging to dine regularly at Sophie’s inn with his men, he begins a cat-and-mouse courtship. She resists. But learning that Édouard is being held in a particularly harsh “reprisal” camp, she must decide what she will sacrifice for Édouard’s freedom. The rich portrayals of Sophie, her family and neighbors hauntingly capture wartime’s gray morality. Cut to 2006 and a different moral puzzle. Thirty-two-year-old widow Liv has been struggling financially and emotionally since her husband David’s sudden death. She meets Paul in a bar after her purse is stolen. The divorced father is the first man she’s been drawn to since she was widowed. They spend a glorious night together, but after noticing Édouard's portrait of Sophie on Liv’s wall, he rushes away with no explanation. In fact, Paul is as smitten as Liv, but his career is finding and returning stolen art to the rightful owners. Usually the artwork was confiscated by Germans during World War II, not WWI, but Édouard's descendants recently hired him to find this very painting. Liv is not about to part with it; David bought it on their honeymoon because the portrait reminded him of Liv. In love, Liv and Paul soon find themselves on opposite sides of a legal battle.

While Liv’s more pedestrian story is less romantic than Sophie’s and far less nuanced, Moyes is a born storyteller who makes it impossible not to care about her heroines.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-670-02661-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller

CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more