I do love a good festive novel that isn't overly Christmassy but still emanates the cosy atmosphere of the season. And the heartwarming and wintery A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom has this feeling in abundance. Set in the gorgeous city of Prague, the romance of this place seeped in history practically leaps off the pages as the three central characters within the novel all end up in the beautiful city at wintertime, when it's at its most magical.
Megan is a photographer and is tagging along with her friend Ollie, who is scouting the city for great locations to take his students on an upcoming trip. Sophie is a frequent visitor of Prague and is waiting for her fiancé to join her on her latest getaway. And Hope is visiting with her new beau Charlie, trying to enjoy the holiday but all the while worrying her daughter will never forgive her for leaving her long-time husband.
All three of the main characters had their own journeys throughout the novel that brought them together at times but also allowed them to grow and change within their own stories. And despite their vast differences, I felt an affinity with each of them; Megan's independence, Sophie's wanderlust and Hope's love for her family. This made it easy to connect and relate to them throughout, but also the more heartbreaking when things didn't go according to plan.
I'm reluctant to say anything more, as this is one of those books that is best enjoyed going in blind. That is what I did, and although I did see some of the developments coming, I definitely didn't predict all of the directions the story was going to take – which made all the more engrossing of a read.
What I can say is that there is an incredible sense of place within the pages. And while Prague only quite recently came on my radar as a city I'd once like to visit, after reading A Year and a Day it has taken a firm spot on my 2017 holiday list. Isabelle Broom's vivid descriptions made it sound so atmospheric and interesting that I can't believe I don't hear about this wonderful place more often from friends and family going there on holiday. I'd better take a trip to see all the beautiful spots mentioned soon, before everyone who reads this book follows suit!
And oof, the wonderful cast of characters she created… I loved Ollie, I loved Sophie, I loved Charlie, heck I loved every single one of them. And strudel, which is definitely a character in its own right. Isabelle has packed her novel with an incredible group of people that even after turning the final page you want to stay friends with. Perhaps when they all get back together for another visit to Prague I can tag along? Pretty please?
A Year and a Day is magical and moving in equal manner. The novel transports the reader to the cobble-stoned streets of Prague, while sharing heartwarming and heartbreaking moments with some of the most memorable characters I've read about in a long time. Though be warned: as soon as you open the pages you will start researching a trip to Prague. Maybe we should all meet for strudel in a café near the Charles Bridge next winter?
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