I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!

Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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

last christmas is paris

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Paperback, 384 pages
William Morrow Paperbacks
October 3, 2017
★★★★ ½☆
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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…

Last Christmas in Paris was my first truly epistolary style novel that I have read. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this type of novel, it is a novel written almost entirely of letters between characters and not in the typical prose style that a novel usually contains. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this style. Thinking about it conceptually it could be more difficult to move the plot forward because how much drama can be put forth in correspondence! Additionally, given the time frame where this novel takes place, the letters were more constrained between the home and the front as both sides tried to keep the other’s spirits up and away from the grotesques of the war. But I have loved the work that I have read from both of these authors and I enjoy reading books set in this time period, so I was sure it would be handled well.

The book is framed within a narrative set in 1968 as Thomas is looking back at the letters from his time in the war as his health is failing – so there is some prose, but not much. The bulk of it is letters, with the majority being between Evie and Thomas, but also to some secondary characters of their friends, family, and business associates. These secondary characters were sometimes critical to advancing the plot and the groundwork for their inclusion was laid right from the start, even before their need was necessary. With letters just between two people the scope of the world is limited in ways similar to first person dialogue. These letters to friends who were located in different places and experiencing different things allows the reader to have a more rounded world view. Evie’s friend Alice goes to the front early on and Evie gets a view of the battlefield from a woman as well as that from Tom. We also learn about world events through Tom’s correspondence with the colleagues at the newspaper his family runs, which also helps with events too.

I think that the authors touched on SO many different aspects of the war that it felt so true to life for me – it is clear that they put time into the research. From small little details about daily life in the trenches, to large scale events like battles, it was all there. And what I think was really unique here was that we see what is transpiring on both sides at the same time – not chapters apart from each other like you might experience in a standard structure novel, which made it feel more real. Oh, and one of the things that I loved the most and made the letters real – the censoring that shows up in the book itself! Letters being sent from the front to their families back home were oftentimes heavily censored by the military before being released so that no locations or wartime data that they didn’t want the opposition to get their hands on would go out. Well, here in the letters from Tom we see actual blacked out portions of the letter, just like Evie would have seen if she was receiving that letter. This was excellent.

I felt that I truly was able to know Tom, Evie, and friends through their letters in ways that I might miss in another novel. In letters you can pour your heart out without the guard that we tend to put up sometimes when speaking directly with someone in person – which Evie actually addresses several times in her letters. I may have shed a few tears throughout this book!

I thoroughly enjoyed Last Christmas in Paris and can’t wait to read more, not only from these authors, but to give other epistolary novels a chance.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Heather Webb:

fall of poppies
Fall of Poppies

[My Review]

rodins lover
Rodin’s Lover

[My Review]

becoming josephine
Becoming Josephine
[My Review]

the phantoms apprentice
The Phantom’s Apprentice
Coming 2018!

Also by Hazel Gaynor:

fall of poppies
Fall of Poppies

[My Review]

the cottingley secret
The Cottingley Secret

the girl who came home
The Girl Who Came Home

a memory of violets
A Memory of Violets

girl from the savoy
The Girl from the Savoy

Find Heather Webb: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Find Hazel Gaynor: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Tour Wide Giveaway

As part of the blog tour we have a tour wide giveaway open for 2 copies of Last Christmas in Paris! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
  • If you have any questions please contact the tour coordinator as I am not involved in the giveaway administration.  Good luck!

Last Christmas in Paris

04_Last Christmas in Paris_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

On the HFVBT website
or on Twitter: #LastChristmasinParisBlogTour

Monday, September 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Books of All Kinds

Tuesday, September 26
Review at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, September 27
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, September 28
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, October 2
Review at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, October 3
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 4
Review at A Literary Vacation

Friday, October 6
Review at Library Educated

Monday, October 9
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Suzy Approved Books

Tuesday, October 10
Interview at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, October 12
Review at Creating Herstory

Friday, October 13
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, October 16
Review at Curling up by the Fire

Tuesday, October 17
Review at Faery Tales Are Real

Wednesday, October 18
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Interview at Faery Tales Are Real

Thursday, October 19
Review at A Holland Reads

Friday, October 20
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Great review, thank you Heather! And thank you for hosting Heather & Hazel's Blog Tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. Thank you for your review. I love both of these Authors work. Looking forward to reading it.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  3. This sounds really good. I want to read it! To the TBR list!


Thanks for leaving your comments! I love reading them and try to reply to all!