Monday, 13 November 2017

#BlogTour: Last Christmas in Paris by @HazelGaynor and @msheatherwebb #LastChristmasinParis

Last Christmas in Paris was published by William Morrow Publishers on 5th October 2017. My thanks to the Authors and Publisher for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.


They were told it would be ‘over by Christmas’…

When Evelyn Elliott’s brother Will and his best friend Thomas Harding sign up for the front, everyone is convinced that the war will be over in months and they’ll be free to celebrate the festive season in the cafes and boulevards of the French capital. But as the months drag on, their ‘Christmas in Paris’ becomes an increasingly distant dream. 
Evie becomes increasingly frustrated by her life as a privileged young woman and is desperate to contribute towards the war effort. Thomas faces the unimaginable horrors of the front, compounded by his obligations to his father’s newspaper business at home. 
Their letters between each other and their friends and relatives reflect the gradual erosion of their youthful idealism and the growing warmth in their own relationship. As the conflict darkens, will they ever be able to enjoy the Christmas they planned together in happier times? 
Last Christmas in Paris was written by historical fiction authors Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. They met after working together on a collection of short stories based on The First World War, Fall of Poppies. They’d both enjoyed the novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and thought that an epistolary novel would be a good way of working together.

My Thoughts:

Last Christmas in Paris is a deeply moving novel told in a series of letters between Evie and her brother Will and friend Thomas who have gone away to serve in World War One. There are others letters between friends and family and the format of the letters works really well. 

The authors have managed to create rounded and authentic characters and portrayed the horrors of the war for those away and those left back at home, a war that should have been over in a matter of weeks but instead went on for years. 

Evie is frustrated being at home, lonely and wanting to help the war effort she takes on the writing of a newspaper column engaging with the ladies left behind, I loved the spirit and the fortitude of her character. 

It was very moving when Thomas begins to suffer from his mental health when he had been on the front line for so long and I think that this was sensitivity handled and shone a light on something that was probably rarely discussed at the time.

Last Christmas in Paris really is beautifully written and incredibly moving, I read it in one sitting. I really do enjoy stories in the Epistolary format and it worked amazingly well here. The characters all felt very real, you could feel there excitements, and then their fears and despondencies as the war started to drag on. Everyone's lives on hold, and nothing to return to the same way as before. All lives altered forever. 

Something also struck me in that the art of letter writing seems to have gone out of fashion but I can't help but imagine what waiting for a letter to arrive from a loved one must have felt like, just to know that they are safe and for them the war goes on.

Deeply moving and sensitively written, this book is somewhat of a gem, I can really recommend it. 



About the Authors:
Hazel Gaynor is the author of Irish bestselling novel Hazel Gaynor's 2014 debut novel The Girl Who Came Home was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Hazel writes a popular guest blog 'Carry on Writing' for national Irish writing website writing.ie and contributes regular feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed, Rachel Joyce and Jo Baker, among others. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children. 

Heather Webb is the acclaimed author of historical novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover. In 2015, Goodreads selected Rodin’s Lover as a Top Pick of the Month. Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and lives in New England with her children and husband, and one feisty rabbit.

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

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