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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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!

  • Erin

    Find this and other reviews at:

    I caught wind of Last Christmas in Paris in March 2017 when the cover started circling social media. I’d read and enjoyed both Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor, but it was the subject matter that caught my attention. I’m a junkie when it comes to war era literature and couldn’t wait to get a copy of my own.

    The story itself is relayed through the correspondence of the novel’s cast and while I know the format doesn’t appeal to ev

    Find this and other reviews at:

    I caught wind of Last Christmas in Paris in March 2017 when the cover started circling social media. I’d read and enjoyed both Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor, but it was the subject matter that caught my attention. I’m a junkie when it comes to war era literature and couldn’t wait to get a copy of my own.

    The story itself is relayed through the correspondence of the novel’s cast and while I know the format doesn’t appeal to everyone, I couldn’t help appreciating the sense of intimacy and depth created by the approach. I felt connected the characters and that made it easy to empathize with their views and experiences.

    In many ways, the narrative reminded me of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth. Webb and Gaynor clearly meant to echo Brittain’s unique perspective and much like the famed memoirist, I feel they succeeded in capturing both the romanticism and realities of the conflict while illustrating its impact on the men and women who came of age in its shadow.

    Sweetly romantic and beautifully composed, Last Christmas in Paris proved compelling and heartfelt. A brilliant tribute to the tragedy of war and the endurance of the human heart.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Asheley

    4.5/5

    Last Christmas in Paris begins in 1968 with Thomas Harding traveling back to Paris for his last Christmas (no spoiler there, see title) with a bundle of letters, a nurse, and failing health. He settles in at his Paris apartment to reminisce over those letters, and the other part of the story is then told: beginning in 1914 when Thomas goes to fight in World War I and continues thru the end of the war in 1918. The 1968-POV elicits emotion because it is clear that Thomas is near the end and t

    4.5/5

    Last Christmas in Paris begins in 1968 with Thomas Harding traveling back to Paris for his last Christmas (no spoiler there, see title) with a bundle of letters, a nurse, and failing health. He settles in at his Paris apartment to reminisce over those letters, and the other part of the story is then told: beginning in 1914 when Thomas goes to fight in World War I and continues thru the end of the war in 1918. The 1968-POV elicits emotion because it is clear that Thomas is near the end and that he is grieving the loss of someone that he loves tremendously. The exact reasons for traveling to Paris aren’t entirely clear in the beginning, but the full significance unfolds slowly over the course of the book.

    This book is mostly epistolary in structure, told through letters and a few telegrams. The characters are corresponding from their positions along the Front in WWI back to their friends and family and coworkers in England. These letters start out being encouraging and positive and “Hope you’re back by Christmas!” and eventually contain tales of heartache and grief as everyone realizes that the boys won’t be home for Christmas and that the war will be longer than they expected and more costly in terms of casualty.

    Even though the tone of the letters took a more emotional turn as the story progressed, I found myself increasingly hooked to the correspondence and I cared more and more for each of the characters with each page.

    Thomas is trying to run his family business, a newspaper, from his place as an officer in the thick of battle-a task that is nearly impossible. He finds himself having to enlist help from back home that he isn’t sure he can trust. Evie grows more attached to Thomas with every letter that she writes and worries every day that she doesn’t receive a letter from her brother Will, who really doesn’t care that much for writing letters. Alice, Evie’s best friend, isn’t content to sit back and not help, so she volunteers to nurse the wounded soldiers, which excites Evie and also terrifies her.

    Evie uses her writing skills to make a difference, creating a very popular column in Thomas’ newspaper about the war from a woman’s perspective, which causes some big issues and conflicts. It also leads to bigger opportunities for Evie. Her relationship with Thomas-which may or may not have escalated over correspondence, mind you-is so frustrating to Evie. She knows how she feels but she truly isn’t sure how Thomas feels.

    The emotion from Evie over her confusing relationship with Thomas, along with all of the emotion from the war and from these characters about the things going on in their lives, made me HANG ON THESE WORDS. All of the conflicts are so doggone good and engaging to me as a reader even though they’re all addressed to someone else directly. I think there is something special about the characters speaking to one another in letters and being descriptive about what they see, hear, wish for, long for, feel. I feel like I’m peeping into their lives; it almost feels scandalous.

    I

    stop reading, especially as I got closer and closer to the end because there were a few super intense things that happened with the plot closer toward and I was genuinely afraid for a few of the people that I had grown close to. And I’ll be honest: I cried for the last fifty-ish pages at the end. I think it was a combination of being so invested in the story and of hoping for the best, and then finally getting to the end and seeing what happens with everyone. Yes, there were tears.

    I just loved this one and I’m excited about rereading it with the audiobook. After I finished, I took a peep at the audio details and saw that it has a full cast of narrators and the sample sounds wonderful. I’m DYING to take a listen to the book for a reread.

    Such a marvelous story! This one is great for those that love historical fiction, particularly the World War I era, or those readers that enjoy exceptionally well-done epistolary novels. I can’t wait for everyone to read this book. It was a complete joy for me the entire time that I read it.

    Find this review and more like it on my blog,

    !

  • 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.

  • Cheryl

    The year is 1968 when an elderly Englishman who is nearing the end of his life, decides to make one final trip to Paris at Christmastime. He brings with him a large packet of letters. His days are spent peacefully as he reads the letters and reminisces about the course his life has taken.

    Set against the backdrop of World War I, this beautifully written novel is told through letters exchanged between a young Englishwoman and her brother and her close friends. It is a historical novel but more th

    The year is 1968 when an elderly Englishman who is nearing the end of his life, decides to make one final trip to Paris at Christmastime. He brings with him a large packet of letters. His days are spent peacefully as he reads the letters and reminisces about the course his life has taken.

    Set against the backdrop of World War I, this beautifully written novel is told through letters exchanged between a young Englishwoman and her brother and her close friends. It is a historical novel but more than that, it is also a moving love story.

    This poignant novel with it’s likable characters will draw you in as friendship, hope, and love prevail against the horrors of war.

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