I knew walking into this book that there would be an element of sadness to it so it took me a while to actually pick it up and start it. When a story is too depressing, I get stuck feeling sad for days so I was hoping and praying that this wouldn't be the case. I actually really enjoyed the book and was satisfied with the way it ended. It is definitely a book that makes you think and realize that you shouldn't take the luxuries you have for granted.
Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.
Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.
One thing I really like about the story is that it wasn't predictable. I never knew what would happen next. I had hunches and theories but I was never sure and that kept me reading well into the night. I also enjoyed how the author switched between past and present. The main plot revolved around a portrait of Sophie when she had been in Paris with Edouard. The portrait caused both pleasure and pain for Sophie in the past. In the present, in is owned by Liv Halston, whose late husband gave it to her as a gift. She loves the portrait and when a long lost Lefevre relative says it was stolen and tries to take her to court to get it back, Liv, like Sophie, is willing to make huge sacrifices. Liv is also strong, but stubborn in my opinion. The court case could cause her to lose everything but she won't give up. I liked that about her but at the same time, I was frustrated with her at times for being so one sided and not realizing how much she has on the line. She did smarten up toward the end and again, I thought I knew what would happen and I was mistaken and pleasantly surprised.
If you enjoyed Sarah's Key (which I did), you will like this story. It definitely has its depressing moments but also some inspiring ones. Sophie was an extremely strong character who took extreme risks to keep her family safe. She never gave up on her hope that she and her sister Helene would see their husbands again. Helene was less confident and often leaned on Sophie for support but when the time came for it, she found the emotional strength she needed as well. Edith, although not a huge character, was the one I felt the most emotionally attached to. I wanted to know more about her life after Sophie was taken. She was so young to have to deal with so much loss.