Told almost exclusively through letters, this book begins in 1914 with the naïve excitement of Will Elliot and his best friend Thomas Harding as they set off to the Front to fight in World War I. Evie Elliot, Will’s sister, stays behind and promises to write them both as often as she can, at least until the war is over before Christmas of 1914. Of course, the war wages on far beyond 1914, and Evie, Will, and Thomas use their letters as a bright light in the darkest times.
I’m not crying, you’re crying!!!!! I picked this book up at first because I was looking for a holiday book with a bit more depth than some of the bakery, snow day cheesiness I read last year. (No shade, it just isn’t my vibe.) Last Christmas in Paris absolutely delivered. I have so many feelings about this book. It tackles the emotional trauma of war, the changes a person inevitably experiences as they live through any kind of combat, and captures the beginning of the women’s movement and the start of a healthier approach to mental health. I loved Evie as a main character because she is spunky, sweet, and fun, yet also realizes her privilege and constantly fights against it with her desire to get involved in the war effort. Her best friend, Alice, is equally lovable and the two of them represent the kind of women who helped give females a place in the male-dominated workforce.
Perhaps the most delightful part of this book is the beautiful romance between Evie and Thomas. They start out as childhood friends, writing to stay in contact and to keep tabs on Evie’s brother and Thomas’ best friend, Will. As the two continue writing, they talk about their hopes for the war, their dreams, and even the mundane aspects of their lives. The reader is aware before the two of them that they are falling in love, and, just trust me on this, you’re going to love them.
Of course, the book isn’t without conflict and heartbreak. No war story could skip those details, but in this case, the historical aspect only enhanced the story. I was so invested both through Thomas’ experience at war and through Evie’s experience back in England as she pioneers her female-written newspaper column, as she becomes a post-woman, and as she eventually joins the Front. The two of them make it so easy to cheer for their romance to take flight, despite the many difficulties that stand between them.
In the interest of not spoiling any details, I think I’ll leave this review here. Overall? A beautiful holiday story filled to the brim with all the feels, romance, and historical importance. Read it this winter!
This free book was kindly mailed to me by William Morrow Paperbacks.
PUBLICATION DETAILS: October 3, 2017. William Morrow Paperbacks. 400 pp. 9780062562685. Fiction -> Historical Fiction