Thursday, January 20, 2022

Book Review: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Authors:  Meet Me in Monaco
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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 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…


The year is 1914 and England is now at war.  Will Elliott and Thomas Harding, best friends since childhood, are off to fight in the war and leave Will's little sister, Evie, behind.  But the three of them know that this war won't last long; in fact, people say it will be over by Christmas. They have always dreamed of spending Christmas in Paris, so that's the plan.  As the months go on, the three realize that the war isn't going to be over soon let alone by Christmas, so they have to pivot their plans.  Evie, left behind at home, is frustrated by the boredom of life and wants to contribute more than just making socks.  Whereas, Will and Thomas are realizing war is brutal and isn't some romantic, heroic battle.  Readers find all of this out through letters written back and forth through Will, Evie, and Tom.  Each character encounters different struggles as the war progresses. Evie wants to contribute by writing about the war from a female perspective, Tom is dealing with not only being at the front in France, but also dealing with his ailing father at home and the running of his family's newspaper.  Will is also dealing with the triumphs and tragedies of war, but he also has his eye set on a relationship with a nurse.  The depiction of war from all angles through Evie, Will, and Tom's letters will make readers laugh, cry, cringe, and sigh.  I absolutely adored Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb and this gem of a historical novel can be enjoyed any time of the year, not just at the holidays.

Evie was someone I really enjoyed from the start of Last Christmas in Paris. Through her letters with her brother and Tom, I could feel their childhood connection. They had plans for Christmas in Paris and those plans kept getting pushed back to the point where it felt like a far off dream. Evie sees all the sacrifices her friends are making and wants to do more, much to her mother's dismay. At first, her parents really deter her from doing just about everything, but finally, she finds a way to do something meaningful, starting with writing about the war from a much needed female's perspective. The newspaper column is a hit and women appreciate her perspective as it's often overlooked.  While writing back and forth with Tom over the years, their strong friendship morphs into something more via these letters. It was truly a pleasure to experience. I am a sucker for a good friends-to-lovers trope, so I really enjoyed this aspect of the story. The main issue is Tom isn't home. Evie is. Would this even work or are there too many obstacles facing them?

I also think Gaynor and Webb did a gob job depicting the war through Will and Tom's eyes in Last Christmas in Paris.  World War I was extremely difficult and they didn't sugar coat anything in their letters.  As the years dragged on, I really felt for the soldiers as it didn't feel like an end was in sight.  Will they ever make it back to Paris or is it just a dream to think upon when freezing cold on the battlefield?

I never thought I would appreciate a novel that was told mostly through letters, but Gaynor and Webb did a fascinating job.  I was totally glued to The Last Christmas in Paris and expertly the authors were able to really develop the characters through an epistolary format. It was outstanding and I cared for the characters so very much! Also, I felt aspects of Last Christmas in Paris could be appreciated even today, especially when the Spanish flu emerges as well as the idea of having to push back plans and the uncertainty of the future. 

If you love stories about WWI, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Last Christmas in Paris. Even though it sounds like a holiday tale, it can be enjoyed any time of the year as the focus on Christmas isn't overwhelming. Fan of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will especially appreciate this one.

So, are you a fan of Gaynor and Webb's novels? Have you read Last Christmas in Paris? This would be the perfect book for historical fiction lovers to curl up with by the fire this winter.  Let me know what you think in the comments below. 



  1. I had a copy of this one on my shelf for awhile and I just recently read it. What a story! I loved the way it was told through letters. This writing duo really comes up with some amazing stories.

    1. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it too! I thought it was so well done! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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