Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War


Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Each holiday season I reach for books set during this festive time of year.  I thought that Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb would fit the bill, but I was surprised that this story was more about the hope that people could be together over the holidays.  The story takes place during WWI.  Many believed that the war would be short lived and over by Christmas 1914.  These hopeful individuals would soon learn that four Christmases would pass before the war would end in November 1918.

Last Christmas in Paris is an epistolary novel with the story unfolding through a series of letters exchanged over time.  Evie Elliott sends her brother Will and his best friend Tom Harding off to war and tries to lift their spirits through her constant stream of letters.  Will is not a letter writer and Evie only receives a few lines occasionally from him, however, his friend Tom responds in kind to Evie.

Tom tells Evie the truth about what is happening during the war in France, which is vastly different from the propaganda the British Government is asking the British newspapers to print at the time.  Evie wants desperately to help in the war effort.  Initially, she helps in her English hometown by delivering the mail.  Finally, when the opportunity arises, Evie joins the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps. 

As a passionate writer, Evie begins writing a newspaper column under a pseudonym where she shares her view of what women can do to be supportive of the war effort.  She also begins to share the truth of what is really happening in the war as told to her by Tom.  Her actions at the time put the London Daily Times, a newspaper owned by Tom’s father in jeopardy.

While this is literary fiction, the book contains snippets of historical information which held my interest.  I really enjoyed this book even though the topic and the story present sobering views of war.