Book Review: Last Christmas in Paris
Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Adult - Historical Fiction
I adore the historical fiction of Hazel Gaynor, so I was excited when I heard about this novel. My only experience with Heather Webb was in an anthology of WWI fiction, but her contribution to the collection was one of my favorite segments. I was interested to see how these two writers would tackle a co-constructed piece.
The novel is told through a series of letters revolving around Thomas Harding, a young British soldier, and Evie Elliott, the younger sister of Thomas' best friend and fellow soldier, Will. I was not expecting an epistolary, but the format worked well based on the circumstances. I could almost feel the worry, intensity, and loneliness of the war years as it seeped through the letters. It was an intriguing format that pulled the reader into the action and let them experience in a different than way than a traditional novel.
The novel opens as Thomas is facing down the last days of life. He has the bundle of precious letters that tell the history of the war years (1914-1918) for him, his family, and his friends, but there is one letter that is unopened, the very last one. He is supposed to open it on Christmas Eve in Paris. Christmas in Paris is certainly on my bucket list. There is something magical about the city at that time of year. I crave a chance to see the Eiffel Tower covered in snow. This journey for Thomas is more than sight seeing jaunt in a beloved city though. He knows that the ghosts of his past will be waiting for him.
As the novel progresses, there is romance and sorrow, two traits that are often present in any story concerning WWI. I was caught up in the letters and wanted to see how everything connected from the war years to the more modern time frame of the 1960's.
As I wrap up my last review of 2017, I am so glad it was this novel that held my heart and mind as the old year starts to fade away and the new year begins to gear up with all its hope and possibilities. I am reminded that love is truly one of the most powerful forces on Earth. If you're a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend spending some time with Thomas and Evie at any point during the year.
One Last Gripe: I enjoyed some of the year segments slightly more than others.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Learning more about women and their roles during WWI
First Sentence: Life is forever changed without her; without the sense of her somewhere near.
Favorite Character: Evie
Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one.
August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.
But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…
Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?
Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…