Staying at your parents’ home for an extended Christmas visit can be stressful, particularly if you haven’t spent the holidays with them in years. Can you imagine how much harder it would be if your family were under quarantine?
This is the situation Olivia Birch finds herself in upon returning home after helping to treat victims of a dangerously contagious (and often deadly) epidemic. For the next week she’ll be stuck with parents Andrew and Emma, as well as her younger, newly engaged sister. Phoebe’s obsessed with her wedding, Olivia is trying to adjust to being home as she worries about an ill colleague, and everyone in the family has secrets they are hiding from the others. As the quarantine nears its end, the Birches will find themselves caught up in events that have life-changing implications for all of them.
SEVEN DAYS OF US is Hornak’s debut novel, and a very enjoyable one at that. I liked the premise of a family who are not exactly close being forced to spend time together due to a quarantine, especially when each of them are already feeling stressed about something. Guaranteed drama there, right?
If I had to pick one Birch I was most interested in, it has to be Olivia. I won’t go into exact details about why, but her story had some particularly heart-wrenching moments that really got to me. A very, very close second is Emma because what she was going through—and the way she tried to deal with it—just broke my heart time and again.
Phoebe annoyed me with her single-mindedness, and for most of the story I didn’t like her at all. I liked her much better by the end, but she mostly got on my nerves. And I hate to say it, but I enjoyed watching Andrew squirm in his attempts to keep his secret hidden from the rest of the family. Andrew’s arrogance made it hard for me to feel a lot of sympathy for him.
There’s a lot I can’t say about this book, because I don’t want to give anything away. It’s not exactly what I was expecting—I assumed this book would be far heavier on the humor than it was. Still, I enjoyed reading it and I’ll be interested to see what Hornak’s next novel will be about!
Author: Francesca Hornak
Title: Seven Days of Us
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Humor
Publication Date: October 17th, 2017 by Berkley
About the Book
A warm, wry, sharply observed debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays…
It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.
As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…
About the Author
Francesca’s work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Metro, Elle, Grazia, Stylist, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Red. She is the author of two nonfiction books, History of the World in 100 Modern Objects: Middle Class Stuff (and Nonsense) and Worry with Mother: 101 Neuroses for the Modern Mama.
Author photo and bio via Goodreads.