Books About Letters: "Last Christmas in Paris"
This month's "Book About Letters" came to Flea Market H.Q. during the Summer from my Future Mother-in-Law -- thanks Ellen! For December we're taking a look at "Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I" (2017, William Morrow Paperbacks) from the writing duo Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. We couldn't pass up a cozy Christmas time read like this and if you're a letter lover, you won't be able to either!
"Last Christmas in Paris" tells the story of our protagonists Evie and Thomas as they navigate the horrors and hell of the First World War. In 1914 Evie's brother Will and his best childhood friend Thomas enlist in the English Army and expect to be home for Christmas -- one which Evie makes them promise they will spend together in Paris. But that's not how history went, as we well know. We're treated to four years of "letters" between Evie, Thomas, and other characters with breaks flashing forward to 1960s Paris. Gaynor and Webb weave an epistolary novel with accuracy and delicacy around what is today held as one of the most bloody and contested Wars in history.
Now to the point of these blogs -- is this truly a "Book About Letters"? Whole heartedly yes! Fans of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" (our April read) and the less well known "Things We Didn't Say" (our October read) will delight to add this to their shelves. Letters are used nicely in "Last Christmas in Paris" as a narrative tool without being overloaded with symbolism and exposition -- the deathblow for a "Book About Letters" here at Flea Market H.Q.
Gaynor and Webb write smoothly, with likable and endearing characters rooted in empathy and human experience. There's a love triangle, a lost letter, a family business in danger, and more to keep you interested. This is absolutely a book for historical fiction fans particularly looking for something seasonal. I was glad to save it and savor it for December. The Christmas theme isn't too overt but it is nice to wrap up each section with the occasion. It's a particularly useful tool for storytelling as it gives Gaynor and Webb a designated space to reflect. And frankly, who doesn't love a book about love letters with a few Christmas scenes thrown in? Sign me up!
I finished this particular read on my first transatlantic flight in two years and while I am not usually a cryer, I will admit that I shed a few tears throughout. Absolutely one to read with a cozy cup of something beside the Christmas tree this year.
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