Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Hazel Gaynor

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.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 hol...

Title:Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I
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Edition Language:English

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I Reviews

  • Kate Quinn

    Got a chance to read an ARC of this one for a cover quote! My review and quote:

    This joint collaboration between authors Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor is a gripping epistolary novel in the tradition of

    and

    . Beginning with heartbreaking gaiety at the start of the First World War, "Last Christmas In Paris" follows a progression of letters between a spirited female journalist, a bookish new-minted soldier, and the various bright yo

    Got a chance to read an ARC of this one for a cover quote! My review and quote:

    This joint collaboration between authors Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor is a gripping epistolary novel in the tradition of

    and

    . Beginning with heartbreaking gaiety at the start of the First World War, "Last Christmas In Paris" follows a progression of letters between a spirited female journalist, a bookish new-minted soldier, and the various bright young things who make up their band of friends, charting the slow, heartbreaking passage of years as war and disillusion grind away youthful dreams and ideals. Humor, love, tragedy, and hope make for a moving, uplifting read. A winner!

  • Sonja Yoerg

    War changes everything--individuals, relationships, priorities, dreams--so it's not surprising that stories set in wartime are so popular and, in this case, so engrossing. In Last Christmas in Paris, best friends Will and Tom head off to fight the Germans, leaving behind Will's sister, Evie, and, soon enough, the hope of a Christmas homecoming. By the end of the war five years later, these young, spirited characters and their circle of loved ones have experienced the full spectrum of human trage

    War changes everything--individuals, relationships, priorities, dreams--so it's not surprising that stories set in wartime are so popular and, in this case, so engrossing. In Last Christmas in Paris, best friends Will and Tom head off to fight the Germans, leaving behind Will's sister, Evie, and, soon enough, the hope of a Christmas homecoming. By the end of the war five years later, these young, spirited characters and their circle of loved ones have experienced the full spectrum of human tragedy and plumbed the deep reaches of the human heart. I was captivated by their story, and moved.

    Webb and Gaynor artfully craft the narrative using letters and telegrams, a structure that drove me from one letter to the next, eager to learn what the response would be, or which secondary characters might swoop in to complicate the story. It was hard to tear myself away! The multi-layered plot kept me guessing about what the next missive might reveal and I admit my heart was often in my throat. And, yes, I cried.

    A truly remarkable book brimming with passion, intelligence, courage, and humanity.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I slept on my star rating, and I am still feeling the love today. 💗 Sometimes I need to sleep on it to see how long a story stays with me. Evie and Tom’s story is still with me.

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    🎈🎂 🎁 🍰 🎉

    I saved this gem of a book for the holidays, and as they got closer, I knew that I would be starting a new book on my birthday. I wanted a special read for that occasion, and this most definitely was

    . Told in the epistolary st

    I slept on my star rating, and I am still feeling the love today. 💗 Sometimes I need to sleep on it to see how long a story stays with me. Evie and Tom’s story is still with me.

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    🎈🎂 🎁 🍰 🎉

    I saved this gem of a book for the holidays, and as they got closer, I knew that I would be starting a new book on my birthday. I wanted a special read for that occasion, and this most definitely was

    . Told in the epistolary style of letters amongst friends during World War I, Last Christmas in Paris captured my heart.

    This book has a slower crescendo. It takes some patience, but I found myself reading this a little slower than my normal speed and savoring the words, re-reading passages. It takes time to fall in love, and that’s just what happened between two of these friends. They fell in love through their letters. There’s so much beauty in that.

    The World War I backdrop was quite the contrast. While the letters start off with the friends thinking the war will be over by the first Christmas, there were several more Christmases that would come and go before that dreadful war was over. Will Tom and Evie ever meet up to spend Christmas in Paris?

    I enjoyed the authors’ notes where they explained how they wrote the book together (fascinating!). The two authors formed a special friendship as a result of writing this book together and writing letters to each other. There were some interesting facts about the war also. This is not a book I would classify as a romance, but I would say it was certainly romantic in the best of ways. I was ecstatic with my birthday read choice.

  • DJ Sakata

    Favorite Quotes:

    Marrying Charlie would be rather like marrying a broken carriage clock. How the hours would drag.

    I feel like an unworn dress, hanging limply in the closet, without purpose or shape or form.

    I’ve already lost an innocence I didn’t know I possessed.

    Do you remember Lloyd George’s rousing speech “The war to end all wars”? They said it would be over by Christmas. They didn’t say which one though, did they?

    You’re a star, Evie. About the only light I see in these endless nights.

    My Review

    Favorite Quotes:

    Marrying Charlie would be rather like marrying a broken carriage clock. How the hours would drag.

    I feel like an unworn dress, hanging limply in the closet, without purpose or shape or form.

    I’ve already lost an innocence I didn’t know I possessed.

    Do you remember Lloyd George’s rousing speech “The war to end all wars”? They said it would be over by Christmas. They didn’t say which one though, did they?

    You’re a star, Evie. About the only light I see in these endless nights.

    My Review:

    Last Christmas in Paris was simply stunning and a pure delight. This beautifully written and emotive tale alternated between eliciting frequent smiles of pleasure and contentment to stinging my eyes and burning my throat; at either end of the emotional spectrum, the intensity was strong enough to take my breath away. Ms. Gaynor and Webb's eloquent writing reached a level of poignancy and excellence I had yet to experience and the effects may take more than a few beats for my recovery. I seem to be stunned, mentally dazed, and annoying unable to find the appropriate words to give tribute to their remarkable skills and acumen. I adored their enticing characters as much as their exceptionally engaging and descriptive style. I was quickly swallowed up and transported to a different time and place as I devoured the personal letters and insightful inner musings that comprised most of the manuscript. I relished the lighthearted banter and jocularity of the earlier missives that gave way to deeper observations and confessions as the war waged on much longer and harsher than expected. Having read their lovely exchanges, I am moved to bemoan the lost art of human interaction found in putting pen to paper on beautiful stationary for heart-felt letter-writing versus our abbreviated communications of emailing, texting, emojis, and gifs. Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb have mad skills and a new fangirl; I have an extremely strong desire to greedily gather and consume all their words.

  • Trish at Between My Lines

     The entire book is letters.  Love letters, angry letters, duty letters.  Letters that cover every human emotion and I treasured t

     The entire book is letters.  Love letters, angry letters, duty letters.  Letters that cover every human emotion and I treasured them all.  On top of the precious letters that stirred my soul, I learned about the language of stamps.  Where and how you placed the stamp had a hidden message, who knew?  Not me.

     War is depicted in all it's awfulness.  We all know the atrocities that happened.  But knowing them, and then reading letters about actual life in the trenches.  Well it hammers the message home.

     The role of women in WWI really stirred my heart.  Evie knew the value of letting Tom spill his heart to her in his letters. She didn't want to know about the realities of war, but she knew he needed to share them and she was strong enough to help shoulder his pain.  Evie played an active role in the war in many ways, and she shows how women really stood up and participated in this war.

     The love story.  Seriously it's the love story to end all love stories.  It crushed my heart at times, but sent it soaring also.  I loved watching their friendship grow to love via their letters, and I have never believed in the love affair of a fictional couple more than theirs.

     Feels, feels, feels.  All the feels.  Gut wrenching feels, tear jerking feels, heart-warming feels, excited butterfly in the stomach feels, hopeful feels, falling madly insanely in love feels.  This book has them in abundance and I shook with emotional while reading it.

     It's fab, you need it in your life. Trust me and go read Last Christmas in Paris! You can thank me later and if you need a shoulder to cry on, I'm here for you.

    If you only buy 1 book that I recommend this year, then you should make it Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb.  Especially recommended to fans of historical fiction, epistolary novels, world war 1 settings and epic love stories.  I think if you've enjoyed

    previous books that you'll also love this one.  Fans of

    ,

    and

    should also enjoy.

  • Karen

    It’s not easy to tell a story simply by using an epistolary format. It has been successfully done before (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) immediately springs to mind but I’m delighted to say that these two authors have pulled this off magnificently, Last Christmas in Paris is a gorgeous read and I loved it.

    With the occasional interruption into a change of timeline set in 1968, Last Christmas in Paris is told entirely through letters (and telegrams) during the years of 1914-191

    It’s not easy to tell a story simply by using an epistolary format. It has been successfully done before (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) immediately springs to mind but I’m delighted to say that these two authors have pulled this off magnificently, Last Christmas in Paris is a gorgeous read and I loved it.

    With the occasional interruption into a change of timeline set in 1968, Last Christmas in Paris is told entirely through letters (and telegrams) during the years of 1914-1918, mainly between Evie Elliott and Thomas Harding – the childhood best friend of Evie’s brother Will. Evie is a prolific letter writer and it’s not only Tom who receives her missives but her brother Will, and her best friend Alice.

    Evie was an absolute delight and I adored her. She wasn’t content just to sit by and let life pass by. She had principles, gumption and bucket loads of courage. Although from a privileged family, she had no airs or graces and was desperate to ‘do her bit’ for her country when war was declared. Her mother was dead set against her working at all but eventually Evie is able to get a job with the local postmistress delivering letters and those awful official telegrams bringing bad news. Not content with keeping quiet about the propaganda from the government and other news agencies who put out the false reports that everything is going swimmingly well for the troops, she secures a column in a newspaper – telling the truth as she sees it from a woman’s point of view and not holding back on the awful conditions in France and the difficulties faced by both fighting soldiers and the people at home waiting for their return.

    When Tom went to war, he and Evie were not romantically involved. As Will’s younger sister, she has always been teased by both boys but through their correspondence we begin to see a different side to both Tom and Evie. Tom’s letters are heavily censored for mentions of location and other sensitive information but nevertheless through the level of detail, the evocative prose and historical facts I was completely swept up in their lives. The letters start off formally from Tom’s side – signing off with ‘Lieutenant Thomas Harding’ whilst those from Evie are jolly and newsy and include gifts of hand knitted socks, tobacco and books – anything to try and lift Tom’s spirits. As the war continues for far longer than anyone expected, their correspondence becomes more personal and intimate. Both pour out their innermost feelings about the war and life in general.

    The characterisation was spot on with the main characters being incredibly engaging and believable – Tom stole a little bit of my heart and even those I disliked intensely (yes John Hopper I’m looking at you!) were able to get under my skin! The storyline of ‘war neuroses’ (what we now know as PTSD) was extremely poignant and saddening. These poor soldiers who had been through hell at the front, were referred to as ‘Lacking Moral Fibre’ and ‘weak-minded’ when they were returned to Britain for hospital treatment.

    Last Christmas in Paris will make you smile whilst breaking your heart. I was completely mesmerised by the letters, the characters, and oh just by the entire storyline and it will definitely be one of my favourite books this year. I made the mistake of finishing the last 50 pages or so on my morning train commute. My goodness this was an emotional read – a word of warning – if you’re reading this book in public make sure you have tissues!

  • The Lit Bitch

    4.5 stars

    When this one came up for review, I almost passed on it. I am not entirely sure why…..maybe because it was up for review in September and I wasn’t ready to start thinking about anything Christmas related until at least November.

    Or maybe it was because it was a collaboratively written novel, or that the title wasn’t grabbing me. I don’t know, for some reason I almost passed but I am terribly glad that I didn’t pass on this one!

    Let me just say, I loved this novel. It’s a novel written ba

    4.5 stars

    When this one came up for review, I almost passed on it. I am not entirely sure why…..maybe because it was up for review in September and I wasn’t ready to start thinking about anything Christmas related until at least November.

    Or maybe it was because it was a collaboratively written novel, or that the title wasn’t grabbing me. I don’t know, for some reason I almost passed but I am terribly glad that I didn’t pass on this one!

    Let me just say, I loved this novel. It’s a novel written basically in all letter form which made for a super fast read that was hard to put down. The whole time I kept thinking “just one more letter” and next thing I know I was on a different year in the war! So super fast and because of the letters I felt personally connected to the characters in a unique way.

    I normally don’t read a lot of books with different authors because sometimes it just doesn’t work. There is clearly a different voice or style and for me it doesn’t always flow well. However, for this book it was a home run. I loved how different yet familiar each of the letters were. The two authors nailed the different perspectives and gave Evie and Tom very unique yet similar voices. If this book hadn’t been written in letter form, then I am not sure that it would have worked as well.

    So as I said, I loved it, but that doesn’t mean that it was flawless. For me, I felt like the last two parts (last two years of the war) were rushed and not nearly the same attention to detail as the other parts/years or letters. The ending felt rushed and I am not sure that they knew how to wrap things up. I felt like so many pages and letters were dedicated to developing the romantic tension between Evie and Tom and then toward the end it just happened too fast. There was only really two letters between the two that really committed their love to one another and that was too few for me.

    Also I felt like it too Evie way too long to enter the War herself and when she did her time there was too fast and there wasn’t enough insight through her letters to convince me that she was ever really changed or had really seen anything at all. All this ground work had been laid for her to go to the front and when it happened we only had a few letters that were short and rushed. So I felt like I needed more on that. It almost seemed like an after thought.

    All criticism aside though, this was a fantastic story. I loved the research and knowledge that went into the time period and history of the war. It was fascinating to read and clearly the authors did a ton of research on WWI to give it a realistic ring and it was well wroth it!

    This novel isn’t really about ‘Christmas’ so the title is a little misleading but if you are looking for a war time romance with characters that you will no doubt fall in love with, check out this intimate novel full of letters!

  • Cindy Burnett

    Last Christmas in Paris is a dual timeline story told predominantly through letters and telegrams. The majority of the letters are written between Evie Elliott and her brother Will’s best friend Thomas Harding. The authors do an incredible job describing the horrors of war both on the battlefield and at home while also detailing the relationship developing between Evie and Tom. The story unfolds at the right pace, and I was constantly turning pages to see what was going to happen next.

    My favori

    Last Christmas in Paris is a dual timeline story told predominantly through letters and telegrams. The majority of the letters are written between Evie Elliott and her brother Will’s best friend Thomas Harding. The authors do an incredible job describing the horrors of war both on the battlefield and at home while also detailing the relationship developing between Evie and Tom. The story unfolds at the right pace, and I was constantly turning pages to see what was going to happen next.

    My favorite parts of the book were that it was told through letters (I love stories told through correspondence) and the historical information that was included. Some of the World War 1 facts included are commonly known: the British and Germans singing carols on Christmas Day in 1914 and the British thinking the war would be short-lived; however, other facts were new to me. I didn’t realize that treatment for the mental anguish of war (PTSD but not named that during World War 1) existed that long ago. I think of that as a more modern phenomenon. I also was completely fascinated with (and somewhat horrified by) the Order of the White Feather, a woman’s group that made it their mission to shame those men who did or could not join the army to fight in World War 1; many men were working undercover or had been rejected for service for health reasons and still these awful women were indiscriminant in who they targeted. I knew that men who didn’t sign up to join the army were harassed, but I had no idea there was such a coordinated effort. It is very depressing that people are so quick to judge or condemn, and I found this group’s actions to be a good reminder of how an idea (in this case to try and recruit more soldiers) can go so completely awry.

    Last Christmas in Paris is a gem. Thanks to William Morrow for this ARC; all opinions are my own.

  • Suzanne Leopold

    Evie Elliott watches her brother Will and his best friend, Thomas, leave for Europe to serve in World War I. The three of them are very close and have never been separated. Evie is naive and believes that everyone will be together for a Christmas reunion in Paris. The three of them stay in contact via letters, and these communications become the fabric and timeline for the story.

    Evie is frustrated with her life as a young woman and is also unsettled with the lack of “real” news reported by the

    Evie Elliott watches her brother Will and his best friend, Thomas, leave for Europe to serve in World War I. The three of them are very close and have never been separated. Evie is naive and believes that everyone will be together for a Christmas reunion in Paris. The three of them stay in contact via letters, and these communications become the fabric and timeline for the story.

    Evie is frustrated with her life as a young woman and is also unsettled with the lack of “real” news reported by the British government. She has an idea of the grim life as a soldier in France from Thomas’ letters. Evie channels her disappointment by writing a column for a local newspaper. As the war drags on, Thomas and Evie continue their correspondence while hoping for the elusive Christmas in Paris.

    This novel by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb was unique because the story is told in letter format spanning over several years. This book was collaboration between two authors living in different countries, and is a great read for those loving historical fiction.

  • Pamela

    If I were to say:

    If I were to say:

    - Non readers might think I'm some sort of deranged, over-zealous, cliché-spouting, southern-belle-has-been, narcissistic fruitcake.

    Well, they would be wrong!

    Okay, mostly wrong.

    I can be a little over the top, at times. And my southern sensibilities seep out at times. And perhaps I'm a bit deranged for liking fruitcake. But still, I'm fairly certain avid readers (especially Goodreads Peeps) would totally understand my outburst and rally in support: celebrating my enjoyment and discovery of a novel that thrilled me so.

    Truly, in all seriousness, this was an endearing read with a seamless blend of fiction, history, epistolary communique, love/romance, gentle suspense, tenderness, fierceness, subtle sentiment,and garish war reality. Totally enveloping with emotional and literary satisfaction. And like I said previously, the characters/characterizations are drawn in near perfection; utterly genuine to the point I hated the book to end because I would miss them so.

    I do need to mention: There are maybe one or two expletives. And one grizzly descriptive scene. But nothing excessively brutish. And certainly nothing to deter awarding this gem the highest rating. Plus, keep in mind, Christmas certainly plays a role in this novel, but this isn't a Christmas themed novel. It is a war story. A love story. A story about family bonds. And it's a story of hope penned in the form of letters; the kind of hope that keeps us marching on with courage even when all seems hopeless.

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