Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (Amazon)
Rating: Loved it!
Source: Blog Tour
Description: 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…
Genre: Historical Fiction
Why I Picked This Book: So many reasons! World War 1, Paris, Hazel Gaynor, the cover, a final letter! How could I resist it?
My Impression: This is my second book by Hazel Gaynor and I was not quite sure if this book could live up to my love of The Cottingley Secret. With its epistolary format I just didn't see how it could be quite as magical. But it was! The personalities come out so strong in the letters that I felt like the letter writers were real. I could imagine Evie sitting at Will's writing desk alternately writing the letter and looking out the window. I could see Thomas taking a break from training or taking a a little time away from his men once they got to France to dash out a letter to Evie. I could sense Evie's frustration and forced good cheer as well as Thomas' fatigue and desperation for a connection to home. There are a number of other letter writers. There is Evie's brother Will as well as the occasional family member or friend and while their voices are distinct Evie and Thomas are the characters I connected with the most.
This isn't a book that I can really go on and on about but not because I didn't love it but more because in its own way it's a quiet book. The world is falling apart around the characters and my heart hurt for them but at the same time this isn't action oriented book. The letters catch snapshots of fear, pain, love, and hope through the perspective of the letter writer. I became completely immersed in the world they created and I was sad when the time came to leave.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Yes! I want to read more books by either Gaynor herself or this writing team right now!
Would I Recommend this Book? Yes! This is a wonderful read. If you enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society I think you'd love this one.