Title: A Year and a Day
Author: Isabelle Broom
Publisher: Penguin UK – Michael Joseph
Source: NetGalley ebook
A Year and a Day is a perfect winter’s tale, ideal for reading by the fire with a blanket and warm, steaming mug of hot chocolate. I, however, read most of this book on a plane, on a flight back from a weekend in Prague and it was just as good.
This is a romance novel but one that follows three different women as they head to Prague for a holiday in the winter months. As luck would have it, they end up meeting and their stories become intertwined. Despite the romance / women’s fiction branding, this novel rises above the stereotype of those genres and has moments that are deeply emotional and others which are lean towards the empowering.
There are three different story-lines, one for each of the women – Megan, Sophie and Hope.
Megan is a woman who puts her photography work before anything else, especially love, but comes to Prague at the behest of her best friend Ollie to take pictures for the class he’ll teach on the city. He may have other ideas, however. This was probably my favourite of the story-lines as it gets the most attention throughout the novel and I really liked both of the characters. The conflict was understandable and felt real and I thought it was beautifully resolved, even if it was a little over the top.
While Megan’s was the most relatable, Sophie’s story was the most interesting. We see very little of it as Sophie spends most of the time wondering the city alone, waiting for her long-term boyfriend Robin to join her. For fear of revealing too much, there are also hints of there being an underlying problem as Sophie shrinks more and more into herself as the novel progresses. While I thought the relationship depicted between Sophie and Robin was a bit too perfect, this story-line is the most emotional and actually had me tearing up towards the end of the book.
Hope and Charlie, however, let the book down for me. I liked Charlie based on what I saw of him, but he is probably the most under-developed of the six main characters. Unfortunately, as the story progressed I found myself disliking Hope more and more. While I can appreciate her desire to become her own woman, there were moments where she came across as a bit unlikable, a little pathetic and, for want of a better word, entitled.
Spoilers here. It frustrated me a lot that Hope spent much of the novel upset and surprised by the fact that her daughter wasn’t speaking to her after finding Hope in the back of a car with Charlie, despite still being married. Of course her daughter wouldn’t want to associate with her; she broke up their family. The author also spent a lot of time trying to make the cheating seem okay, which put me off this story-line quite a lot, especially as it was resolved so easily and quickly. Not a good move in my opinion. Mini-rant and spoilers over.
Aside from Hope’s part of the novel, I really enjoyed this story. It was well written and developed and I got thoroughly invested in two of three story-lines.
As a novel set in Prague, A Year and a Day, had the perfect setting and, having just been there, I could picture the city vividly as I was reading. Unfortunately, there were parts of the book which read like a guidebook which really cut back on the magic that a setting like Prague should create. If that author had described the city throughout rather than relying on a couple of sentence-long descriptions of name and history, it would have been a lot easier to imagine what was occurring. That being said, Prague was an excellent choice of location for this novel and, while this novel was about the romantic lives of the three female protagonists, at times it felt more like a love letter to the city itself.
I actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. The characters were enjoyable and their stories were easy to get into, with the sole exception of Hope’s story. I did feel a little let down that for a novel with three relationships in it, all were heterosexual ones; it would have been great to see some representation in a novel of this genre and standard (and maybe replacing that one story-line that let it down). That being said, I was heavily invested and found myself really caught up at the end, which, at this point reading on a train, was a little difficult to contain. This book is worth a read, especially at a time when you can get that proper winter feel.
A Year and a Day will be released on 17th November 2016.
The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/A-Year-and-a-Day/9781405925334/?a_aid=rosienreads