Hi guys. Today I am delighted to be part of the “Last Christmas in Paris” blog tour. I do love a great historical fiction, and I am always intrigued by books written by two authors, and this novel brings both of those things. While I’ve already read and adored books written by Hazel Gaynor – they mostly make me cry like a baby but they are so beautiful! – Heather Webb was a new author to me that I am incredibly happy to have discovered for myself.
Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Publisher: William Morrow
Publishing Date: 3rd October 2017
Source: Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction
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…
I love to read great historical fiction and Hazel Gaynor is for sure one of the authors that can write in this genre. This time she has collaborated with Heather Webb, and together those two ladies have delivered a wonderful, poignant and heart – breaking novel, and a very unique one, as it is written in a letter format. There are literally only letters, and yes, at the beginning it was somehow hard to follow the story like this, without the usual descriptions of, I don’t know, people, their looks, the way they dress, places, weather, without dialogues, but it didn’t take me long to fell in love with the characters and the way the story was told.
Evie Elliott’s brother Will and his best friend Thomas leave to serve in World War 1. They all hope that war is going to end soon and that they’re going to see each other in a few months, in time for Christmas. They stay in touch via letters in which they describe all things that happens, their deepest thoughts, hopes and fears – out of those letters arises a story between a young and ambitious girl who wants to fight the war in her own way and becomes a spirited journalist, her reserved but loving brother and his best friend, those two new – minted soldiers, believing in all things good – that is, until they realise what war really is.
There was one thing that didn’t really work so well for me, and it was the romance aspect between Evie and Tom. All the time they were best friends and the sudden explosion of the love was this little bit unrealistic and out of the blue. I had a feeling that the authors concentrate on all things but the blossoming feelings, and then suddenly, towards the end, the love exploded and it felt much too rushed for my liking, too flawless. Also, the change in Evie after she went to the war was too forced for me, it just didn’t ring true, and was also too quick.
But altogether, it was a great love story, about dreams, disillusions and loyalty. What made it even more better was the fact that the authors so skilfully smuggled a lot of clever, sharp humour that was so needed when we faced all those tragedies. It was thoroughly researched and I didn’t have a feeling that it was written by two authors, maybe it was even better that it was written by two authors because the letters had their own distinctive voice and didn’t sound similar, as if written by the same person. Both authors writes in such an engaging, descriptive and rich style and they effortlessly transported me to a different times and different places.
In the end we receive a wonderful, touching and unique story that tugs at the heart strings. It made for a very fast read and it was, in fact, unputdownable – because it was always “just one more letter” and because it was so hooking and captivating. You somehow felt just like a part of the characters’ lives, probably because thanks to the letters, as they were so honest, there were no secrets, you knew all their feelings. Beautiful and poignant, a great book for fans of historical fiction – recommended from me!
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