“Those of us who are lucky enough to find a letter on the doormat devour the words inside with the appetite of a starving man. Those of us whose doormats remain empty must somehow find the courage to step over them and go out into a world we no longer recognise.” Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS
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…
If you have had an ache of longing since you finished reading THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY, or since the conclusion of DOWNTON ABBEY, this novel is just the tonic.
LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS: A NOVEL OF WORLD WAR I, is an epistolary novel. Told in letters, telegrams, and newspaper dispatches, the marvelous, tragic, romantic, and fascinating story of Evie and Tom is one for the ages. Readers will not be able to turn the pages fast enough to find out the fates of their beloved characters, all while trying to savor the delightful exchanges.
At turns ebullient and heartbreaking, and often in quick succession, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS is a true gem in historical fiction. Gaynor and Webb wrote the book in their own kind of letter exchange, giving it a special air of authenticity.
This was the first novel I read in 2018, and I’m afraid the bar has been set very high for whatever follows. If you are searching for a book to fall in love with, I cannot recommend LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS enough.