Saturday, January 13, 2018

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

At the start of WWI, there was a general feeling in Great Britain that it was a lark that would soon be over.  As men headed overseas to France and started battling in the trenches, the feelings soon changed to hopelessness.  Will they ever be able to return home?  Will they ever be able to have a Last Christmas in Paris?

Thomas Harding is spending one last Christmas in Paris in 1968.  With him is a collection of letters from World War I between Evie Elliot, her brother Will, Will’s best friend Thomas Harding, and other friends and family.  As Thomas reads through the letters, he revisits the past, the heartache and loss of the war, and also the great love.

I love, love, loved Last Christmas in Paris.  I think epistolary novels are fun to read, it’s like discovering the story of your Grandparents told through their letters.  I loved the characters, especially Evie.  She lives a privileged youth growing up with Will and Thomas near London.  It all seems a lark when they first go off to war, but as the war progresses, Ellie longs to both become more involved and scared that she may never see Will and Thomas again. 

When going off to war, Thomas feels like it will be over soon, but also doesn’t want to settle into the family business of running a newspaper.  Only when he is overseas does he realize the importance of the paper and his father, and also the importance of his friend Will’s little sister.

I also appreciated that the novel faced a serious problem, PTSD or shell shock as they called it then, squarely on and talked about it as a major part of the story.  

Favorite Quotes:

“Life is forever changed without her without the sense of her somewhere near.  Empty hours wander by as I listen for the soft tread of her football on the stair and wait for her laugher to cheer these lifeless rooms.  When I close my eyes I can conjure her; the scent of her perfume, the feather-touch of her fingertips against my cheek, those intense blue eyes looking back at me.  But it is all illusion.  Smoke and mirrors that conceal the truth of her absence.”

“A new year lies ahead.  Though I am losing hope every day that I will ever return to England in one piece – or at all – at least time marches forward, paying no heed to the follies of men.”

Overall, The Last Christmas in Paris is a wonderful novel of love, life, and war.  I highly recommend it!

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow. Thank-you!


  1. This does sound like an excellent book, Laura, sad but worth reading. Lovely review!

  2. I was watching again Downton Abbey and the way WWI affected all. I think this book would be similar.

  3. It is similar to Downton Abbey in tone now that I think of it - and I LOVE Downton Abbey. It's a good book to read if you are a fan.

    1. I loved how Downton addressed the effects of war and how the estate was turnt into a hospital. That whole season felt especially raw and authentically honest somehow... I lost interest in Downton in latter series esp when they monked with Anna's story-line. I simply had to exit... they went too far for me. But! I agree on this note!

      If you love these kinds of situations, you might want to check out "Where Dragonflies Hover" by AnneMarie Brear? I'd like to my review but I always have a hard time doing that lately as blogs w/ captcha settings get the wrong idea when I share links! :( You can find it easily if you use the search box though!

  4. Hallo, Hallo again Laura!

    I've started to recover from being awoken by a stomach bug whilst setting into your blog and a few others who are participating in the HisFic RC; nothing like reading some inspiring bloggers posts about the stories their reading and sipping peppermint tea to make a girl feel uplifted! :)

    I truly *loved!* reading this one myself - therefore, when I spied it listed on the January linky, I had to return! lol I never had the chance to visit those on the blog tour or those who were reading it round the time of it's release, so this is a treat! I have appreciated Ms Webb's stories since Josephine but this was my first by Ms Gaynor. (despite having one of hers on my shelf!)

    I know, isn't that the truth!? Letters are such personal portals of insight into hearts, minds and the interior thoughts we all percolate to ponder but are oft-times only shared between the two who are communicating their lives through postal routes,... reading these kinds of stories is a special treat for me too, being I've been a letter writer for most of my life. It was so very inspiring, as I've fallen away from writing letters regularly and earnestly want to resume.

    The time slip aspect of the story touched me for how well both time-lines were conceived. You felt so dearly connected emotionally to Tom!

    So happy you were as charmed by this story as I was myself! Maybe you can visit with me sometime and we can see if any of my thoughts matched yours?!