This is the third of Patsy’s recently published novels, the other two being ‘Escape to the Country’ (which I have reviewed for The Copperfield Review) and ‘Paint Me a Picture’. After the seriousness of ‘Paint Me a Picture, ‘A Year and a Day’ was pure escapism.
Stella and Daphne, two girly girls down to Stella’s pink slippers, visit a fortune-teller, who tells them what’s going to happen during the next year. Daphne believes every word but Stella not a word of it. As the story works through the fortune-teller’s predictions, at various points one or both of the girls, and Daphne’s brother, John, contrive to make the predictions come true… for good reasons to do with the story. Whether helped along by her prescient powers or not, Stella and Daphne move a long way, from being two emotionally young girls to becoming wives.
Although the story is written entirely from Stella’s point of view, it is as much about Daphne as Stella. Both characters well-depicted, very likeable and also quite different. What carries the story along is their unshakeable friendship, which takes into its stride what, for any other two chums, might have been contentious issues – such as both of them going out with Luigi (at different times!) and Stella having been dumped by Daphne’s brother. However, we are never told how the two got to know each other in the first place.
Some serious subjects are touched upon, such as Stella having been a foster child and being unable to re-make contact with her natural parents, but she finds comfort in the warm welcome always given to her by Daphne’s family. Stella is a strong, and very focussed, woman, who gets on with things. Finding she has a sound head for business, she also sorts out Mr Clover’s flower shop, where she works.
Daphne’s brother, John, is the most complex, and probably the most interesting, character… as well as starting off the book as the most irritating, to Stella, and to me, the reader. A policeman, who doesn’t seem to be able to help himself checking window-locks in Stella’s flat or making sarcastic comments about her slippers, he grows on us as we start to see the hurt and confusion inside.
Would I recommend you read ‘A Year and a Day’? Yes, definitely. Great fun!