Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb are the authors of “Last Christmas in Paris,” a historical novel that will keep readers engrossed until the end. Though the book has Christmas in the title, it’s a joy read anytime of year, and a romantic pick for February. I found the novel refreshing with its progression of letters written between family members and friends during World War I.
The setting begins in Richmond, England, a suburb close to London. The Elliotts are a prominent family there. The letters are primarily exchanged between Evie Elliott and Thomas Harding, a childhood friend of Evie's, and Will, Evie’s brother.
Thomas has just enlisted in the British Army with his closest friend, Will. Thomas didn't leave his father on the best of terms for his dad wanted him to take over the helm of the family newspaper, “The London Daily Times.” Thomas hopes his dad will be proud of him for serving in the army instead.
Will's younger sister Evie decides to write Will and Thomas because she is missing them terribly. War correspondents are predicting that the war will be over by Christmas so Will, Tom, Evie and her best friend Alice are making plans to reunite in Paris. But soon the men are sent to France, to the Front lines, and reality sets in. This war is going to be a long and costly.
Evie and Alice try to think of ways they can get involved in the war effort. At first, Evie becomes a "postie" delivering mail to families awaiting word from loved ones engaged in the war. Later, after reading letters fromTom, who describes what is really happening in the war, she decides to become a journalist and write for the “London Daily Times.” She is assigned to write a column focusing on a woman's point of view of the war and it’s an instant success.
Alice signs up to be a nurse and soon is sent to the front lines where she sees first hand what is really going on. Letters continue between Evie and Tom as she learns how dire the circumstances are for the British troop—hope remains that the Americans will soon join the war effort. Evie also finds that her feelings for Tom are becoming stronger and she wonders if he might feel the same.
"Last Christmas in Paris" offers a unique account of what conditions were like for the British Army, as well as for the loved ones left at home. The authors keep us wondering what fate lies ahead for Evie, Tom and their family and friends. This novel is a winner!