A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom
Publishing Date: 17th November 2016
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere
For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again . . .
For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault . . .
For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .
Three different women.
Three intertwining love stories.
One unforgettable, timeless city.
Isabelle Broom’s debut novel “My Map of You” has blown me completely away when I read it earlier this year, so there is no need to say that I was waiting for “A Year an a Day” like crazy, biting my nails and with bated breath, and to be honest I didn’t start to read it immediately when my copy arrived because I was – and I know it sounds somehow foolish – scared. Scared that I won’t like it as much as I liked Isabelle’s first book.
And sadly, it happened. I loved Isabelle’s writing, she is a great story – teller and she has great ideas but for me personally the whole book was more a tribute to Prague, more a travel guide than a story. It was a long book and I had a feeling that except for visiting the capital city of Czech Republic there was nothing happening. I also had a problem with the characters.
The story follows 3 couples, who are all visiting Prague. They don’t know each other, they don’t have common stories, it’s just a coincidence that they stay at the same hotel at the same time. So we have Megan and Ollie. They are just friends. Well, there was this kiss, once, and Ollie would love something more to develop between them but Megan is desperate not to allow for this. All she wants is to focus on her career as a photographer and she doesn’t need a relationship. But when Ollie, a teacher, invites her to Prague, she agrees but under one condition: only as friends.
Then we have Hope and Charlie. They are a fresh couple and those few days in Prague are their first break. Hope is in love with Charlie – or at least she thinks so – and she’s over the moon with the surprise trip to the capital city and her only thorn is the fact that her daughter Annette doesn’t want to have anything to do with her anymore – she claims that Hope broke her own marriage and doesn’t want to know her mother’s point of view. And then also Charlie, who starts to be enigmatic and mysterious and somehow seems too far away – was the decision of being with him too rushed?
And there is also Sophie. She has travelled to Prague alone but she’s expecting her boyfriend Robin to join her in a few days. In the meantime she visits Prague and all the places she has visited with Robin before, as they return here every year – this is the place they got to know each other! But – there seems to be something wrong with Sophie. But what?
There came a moment that when the story was told from Sophie’s point of view I couldn’t help but sigh with irritation, as it very quickly turned out that every single word, every single situation, every single place she will immediately conjure the memory of Robin. It was as if she can’t operate, live, be a single person, a Sophie, that she’s nothing without her boyfriend, and it quickly started to annoy me, to be honest.
I wanted to love this story so much, I really wanted. While I adore Isabelle Broom’s writing, this time the plot seemed to flat and without an idea. There were too many clichés in it and it was tad too predictable, though I am giving Ms Broom brownie points for the last few chapters – this I didn’t see coming. and to be honest, this one extra star that I rated this book with is for the ending. Not for the “main” one, when the characters meet in London, but for the last moments that happened in Prague (And I also don’t mind the über – dramatic situation at the bridge that all the characters were involved, but I mean this harsh fate in Sophie’s life – it was incredibly sad and touching). They explained everything but to be honest, it was already too late for me to save the story. I also can’t say that the mystery worked too well for me because it was clear that something is wrong, and we know which character it involved, but it dragged and dragged and really, when the resolution came I wasn’t interested any more. Also, the other characters and their stories had nothing in common with this mystery and this book could easily be turned out into three different stories. Megan has annoyed me as well. In my opinion she was egoistic, there was only “me”, “I” and “myself” about her and she didn’t consider other people’s feelings. I hated the way she played with Ollie and – honestly – couldn’t understand her decisions. I know that we, women, should play hot and cold with the guys, but there are borders as well, right, and Megan has crossed all of them in my opinion. I much more preferred Ollie, who didn’t hide his feelings, they were crystal clear from the beginning and yes, he took his chances, but I think we can’t blame him for trying, no? He was handsome, kind and supportive, just my kind of man.
Out of all the characters Hope was, I think, the most bleary and vague, and she lacked a spine. I just didn’t warm to any of the characters, to be honest, there was nothing that made them feel special and they just all felt so whingy.
One thing is common for the women – they all want to find hope and solace in Prague, and they want for they dreams to come true. But is it possible?
I love Prague, I had a pleasure to visit this city – it was a short visit but made me fell in love with it – however, after reading this book I am tired of Prague. Truly, I’ve mostly skipped all the descriptions – they were too detailed and there were too many of them for my liking. I want a firm story and not a travel guide when reading a book such as “A Year and a Day”. However, they of course reminded me of some places and I could easily remember the sights and smells.
Altogether, it was a light, uplifting read and I am really, really sad that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. It covers the issues of travelling, broken hearts, taking risks, friendships and relationships, love and hope. It’s that I just couldn’t get this story, probably. After finishing it, I had a feeling that nothing particular happened in this book. But the writing was really good, inviting, welcoming and you felt comfortable in Isabelle Broom’s capable writing hands.