Summary of "The Year in San Fernando" by Michael Anthony

by Elizabeth Burns Google

"The Year in San Fernando," first published in 1965, is a coming-of-age novel by Caribbean-born writer Michael Anthony. Its deceptively simple prose subtly traces the emotional, sexual and psychological changes that take place in a young boy, separated from his family and living among strangers by whom he is initially treated as little more than a servant.

what is a fallback

Synopsis

"The Year in San Fernando" tells of Francis, a 12-year-old boy sent from his small village to be a companion for an elderly invalid, Mrs. Chandles, in her big house in the city of San Fernando in Trinidad. Francis, in return, is to be given food, clothes and the opportunity to go to school, but the reality initially falls short of the child's expectations, as Mrs. Chandles treats Francis like a slave. However, the child and the old woman eventually form a bond.

Narrative Voice

"The Year in San Fernando" is written in the first-person narrative, from Francis' point of view. This allows the author to chart the child's growing maturity and sophistication, as he begins to acknowledge and understand his own feelings and those of others.

Themes

Weather and the rhythmic nature of the changing seasons are pervasive themes, and are used as a metaphor for the changes the characters experience as they mature and, in Mrs. Chandles' case, face the inevitability of death. The book also explores the influence weather has on the characters' moods and well-being. When Mrs. Chandles, whose crabbiness is exacerbated by being in constant pain, enjoys a temporary respite during a season of rain, she reveals herself to be a more kind and giving person.

Influences

"The Year in San Fernando" is partly autobiographical, reflecting some of the author's experiences as a 12-year-old when he worked for a family. Born in 1932, Michael Anthony has lived in San Fernando for a number of years. San Fernando was elevated to city status in 1988.

About the Author

Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.