‘When the Year Grows Old’ introduces a sensible, practical suburban housewife in the midst of a nervous breakdown. No longer prepared or able to meet the demands of her controlling husband, Laura sets up a camp bed in the basement of her neat suburban house and regresses to her barefoot, black-clad student days. Her daughter observes this sudden change in her mother from the side-lines as Laura develops a penchant for Dunhill cigarettes and quoting Blake. Loss is a constant theme in Amy Bloom’s work, and this story about loss of youth, loss of love, loss of life, is wonderful. I love the juxtaposition of mother and daughter, and the temptation to regress to what is arguably a more complicated and yet ultimately freer time of life.
First published in Story, 1992, and collected in Come to Me, HarperPerennial, 1993, and Rowing to Eden, Granta, 2015