Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb - #review

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…



After having read The Girl from the Savoy, I will read anything with Hazel Gaynor's name on it.  This is my introduction to Heather Webb as an author, but after Last Christmas in Paris, don't be surprised if when either name shows back up here on the blog!

WWI was called 'the war to end all wars'.  The world had seen nothing like it, at least on that scale, in 'modern' history.  England and her allies go in believing that the war will be over by Christmas and they can all go back to afternoon tea.  I don't say this in a belittling way about the UK, far from it.  (If you could register as an Anglophile, my card # would be very, very low.  And I note, that especially the Southern States felt the same way about what some here still call 'The War of Northern Agression'.)  It's just something in the human condition that makes people think war will be easier than it turns out to be.

Be that as it may, Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb have co-authored an achingly beautiful book about WWI and different characters' experiences with it.  The horrors faced by soldiers at the front, the frustration of loved ones still at home, and the way war (and WWI in particular) changes the society as a whole are all soundly covered. 

Sitting, as I do, at about 100 years in the future, I had the same feeling reading Last Christmas in Paris as I did when I found out that Lady Bellamy in 'Upstairs, Downstairs' was sailing on the Titanic.  I have the advantage of having read and studied this time period and no how things are going to turn out, but it really doesn't do a whole lot to soften the blow.

So, the inside of the book is, of course, fabulous.  And the cover is gorgeous, once again, giving us visual cues to add to our total experience of the book.  And what an experience it is.  I highly recommend Last Christmas in Paris!



HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


HEATHER WEBB writes historical fiction for Penguin, including her novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover.

As a former military brat, Heather naturally grew up obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before channeling these passions into fiction. When not writing, she flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Find out more about Heather at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Click on the button above to go to the tour page, where you will find links to more reviews of Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.  You can also find out how to become a blog host for future book tours while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and HarperCollins, publishers, via TLC Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.)


  1. I love both of these Authors and know that this will be another great story. Thanks for your review. Looking forward to reading it.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  2. You're right, knowing how history played out does nothing to make stories like this easier to read. And yet I'm still drawn to them! I think it's the humanity in them that, despite the tragic circumstances, hope and love prevail.

    Thank you for being on the tour!