- Book: A Year and a Day
- Location: Prague
- Author: Isabelle Broom
“There’s something magical about this city. You can feel it. There’s something in the air here, like a whispered secret drifting around on the wind”
Prague forms a very vivid backdrop to this storyline, as we follow the characters through their personal and actual journeys around the city. Their paths cross in a central city hotel, shortly before Christmas, so outside it is crisp and white, with swirling snow as the characters jointly and individually explore this marvellous and striking city, and tackle their own personal issues.
Ollie and Megan have arrived not as a couple but as two friends, who just happen to get on well. Ollie has chosen this trip so that he can plan a project back at school for his young students. Megan is a photographer who relishes the opportunity to capture Prague on camera. Absolutely platonic, only there is a frisson of something undetermined…
Hope and Charlie are new lovers. Hope left her husband for Charlie, her driving instructor, thereby alienating her daughter Annette. Her daughter’s ire weighs heavily on her and mars her special time with her new boyfriend. Charlie clearly has a secret, attached as he is to his phone…
And Sophie. She arrives on her own. She is with Robin yet for some reason he has not accompanied her. They have the most loving and intense relationship, they are due to be married soon, yet we hear how Robin can just go AWOL at the drop of a hat. His absence is unclear and it is a brooding issue that seems to follow her around during her trip, a puzzle to all including the reader. Sophie is naturally downbeat and I have to admit that she is a forlorn creature, who occasionally irritates. Caught up in her own reverie this is surely not the same young woman who has pluckily journeyed the world with her fiancé? But as the story unfolds, clarity ensues.
The characters overlap, spend time together and embrace the wonders of the city, from Cafe Cukr (I wonder if it is the same as Cukr Kava Limonada, which incidentally is a top tip for the city!). The characters discover Letna Park, and Ollie takes the opportunity to throw his shoes up onto the high wire, just by the Metronome, to join the many others hanging suspended there; the park has few tourists. Strahov Monasteryis beautiful and charms the visitors. And their one collective observation, with which I can concur, is that everywhere in Prague there are clocks, which heightens the awareness of time passing.
The Golden Cross in the arms of St John Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge is a poignant draw in the story as it is to many visitors, where wishes can be granted….
Hope… “could feel Prague easing its way into her, its beauty and inherent sense of magic lifting her spirits. Wherever she looked, there was an ornate building to make her gasp, a street entertainer to make her giggle, or a young couple snuggling under a blanket together watching the world go by.”
A top read to take to Prague for a bit of #literarywanderlust!