by Francesca Hornak
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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…
I was drawn to Seven Days of Us, by Francesca Hornak at the prospect of spending time with a quarantine family during the holidays. Anyone who comes from a big family knows how completely complicated and interesting this set up can be. I had a love/hate relationship with the story but found myself caught up in this family soap opera.
- The Birches have long spent their holidays at Weyfield Hall an aging country estate where Mrs. Birches tries to recapture the idyllic holidays of her youth. The children are grown now, and Christmases haven’t been quite the same. When their oldest daughter Oliva is forced into a seven-day quartine after returning home from a shift as a doctor in a Haug Outbreak abroad. Phoebe the younger sister has become engaged and looks forward to planning her wedding. Their father, Andrew not one for all the fuss hides in his home office, all while their mother, Emma, tries to create the perfect holiday. Oliva is trying to readjust to life outside an outbreak, Andrew and Emma are harboring secrets and poor Phoebe is blind to her fiances’ struggles. Interest dynamic for a quarantine.
- Crisis, secrets, and unexpected connections oh my! This read like a soap opera but Hornak did it in such a way, that you became caught up in the characters and gads I am going to say it. She made me feel sorry for them. Even poor Phoebe who acted at times like a selfish child.
- Hornak captured the complications and simplicity of family. Age old arguments, childhood stories no one lets you forget and labeling you can never escape. Each character fell into some cliche, the fix it all Mom, the opinionated activist, the favorite and the pompous and self-righteous.
- We are given multiple perspectives that allowed us to see past their outward exteriors exposing not only their flaws but honorable traits.
- I loved how each chapter was labeled with who, their place within the house and the time. It felt like a play or whodunnit.
- Unexpected guests, the epidemic, and complications made for some interesting scenes. We did get snippets of humor and fond memories. For a home under quarantine, it certainly was busy! All of which proved to be addictive, because I needed answers as I awaited reactions and discoveries.
- We witness growth in each of the characters and I felt they left quartine understanding each other and perhaps closer. I cannot say I loved any of them and certainly wouldn’t befriend any, but I did identify with Emma and could see some aspects of her in myself.
- The book offers some diversity and I liked the openness of the characters.
- All of the threads and twists were well developed but together all in the same week made the tale feel more like a soap opera. There was a lot happening to these poor people individually and as a family.
- You aren’t going to love any of these characters, even Emma felt pigeonholed as a housewife. All of them possess traits you will struggle with. However, I must point out that at no time did I want to set this down. It was addictive. Mhmm..like a soap opera or reality tv. I am quite sure this will be snagged for the big screen.
- As addictive as this was, I wish that the characters had been more fleshed out and some of the melodrama removed.
- The Birches handling of the quarantine and Haag virus drove me crazy.
While not without issues, Seven Days of Us delivered an entertaining read, just in time for the holidays.
[bctt tweet=”Quirky characters, soap opera drama and a quarantine made Seven Days of Us an entertaining read. ” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]
Hmmm, this actually sounds pretty good to me. I love a good domestic drama, although hearing that it borders on soap opera has me a little leery. I may still check it out though. Great review!
As I said, despite it all, the author had me reading on because I needed to know..lol
You are right, I can totally see this as a movie. I don’t think I really want to read it as I like my Christmas reads to be light and full of romance, but glad you found some things to like about it regardless of the soap opera feel. Might be a fun movie if they add some more humor though 🙂
No, this isn’t really a warm and fuzzy holiday read. Very British.
sounds like a great book if you like soap opera I think? The too much things packed into one book sounds a lot. I personally don’t understand that, but I can see how it can make for an exciting read. I’d probably think it’s ridicules and enjoy it at the same time.
It all took place in the one home, but there were so many things happening. I did have fun though.
I just got an audiobook copy of this one. It kind of sounds like an Elin Hildenbrand book with the family and its drama. I hope I enjoy it.
Hildenbrand’s characters have more depth, but I hope you enjoy it. It kept me reading.
This seems like a fun read for the holidays. I’m not a huge fan of soap operas, but sometimes I like reading something like that.
Exactly Rosa, and did keep me reading 🙂
I saw this book and was really interested in it. Sorry it wasn’t as good as you had hoped. Thanks for your honest review!
Despite it all, I had a good time reading this Karen.
A Belle's Tales
This is a new-to-me book and author! I’m glad you enjoyed it despite the issues you mention. It sounds like one I’d need to be in the mood for but that would be worth the read. 🙂
It was different and a quick read Michele.
Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books
I am really considering this one. I like the soap opera vibe that I am getting from it. It definitely sounds interesting.
It’s a fast read and despite all I mentioned, I had no trouble.
I love my family but no idea how I could be quarantined with them for a full week – we’d be a soap opea unto ourselves 🙂 Sounds like a quirky family drama read…. Lol – really love those around the holidays!
I love character driven stories. Especially ones that involve group or family dynamics. I can imagine all kinds of stuff. LOL This sounds like one for me and I like the cover too.
With everything I should have hated it, I did enjoy myself.
“what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays…” — I’m cringing already! Thanks for the post.
These people are nutters Angela 🙂
Melissa (Books and Things)
Wait… quarantine but with unexpected guests? Doesn’t that mean they get added to the quarantined group? You do have me curious. I don’t always like soap dramas, but sometimes they hit the spot.
*Blinks* and nods. Yep, it had its moments.
I had my eye on this one. Sometimes I like some soapy fun.
I had fun with it despite it all Sam,
Ohh new to me, could be good 😀
If you try it, I look forward to your thoughts!
I can fully understand what you mean when you say that you had a love/hate relationship with the story whilst finding yourself caught up in the family soap opera. Despite your misgivings a book that really appeals to me which surprises me as huge on characters I would often as not be put off by your saying you wished the characters had been more fleshed out.
I understand, which is why I was so surprised I enjoyed it despite all I mentioned. LOL
I reviewed this for RT Kim and I agree with your assessments especially the virus, but I have to admit that I liked the older sister the best.
Thank you and yes out of all of them, yes. She did have some issues though.
I have been on the fence about this one, but when you said “soap opera,” I thought it might be fun to see what a large family would do when faced with close confinement.
Thanks for sharing…now I think I must read this one.
Enjoy Laurel, despite some issues I had fun.
Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
I really enjoy a good family drama. Even though this one does sound rather soap opera-ish, it seems like there’s still plenty there to make for an interesting read. I like the fact that you mention that even though the characters aren’t particularly lovable, it was still addictive and you didn’t want to put the book down. Enjoyed your review!
It really was, and I finished it in record time.
I’m actually looking for a Christmas read, but I’m not completely sure this book would do for me . . . However, I can’t say it sounds bad either and I’m glad you found it entertaining 🙂
It was an easy read and despite some over the top drama etc, it was one I enjoyed.
i wonder if the characters did “the stare” famous stare of soap operas…
I wanna see itt!!
Hehe..eye rolling and stares yep.
I quite like that cover, it’s a little quirky and cute. This one sounds pretty interesting with those family dynamics going on, though I’m not sure I’d have the patience for it.
Thankfully it held my attention
Geybie's Book Blog
Oh so complicated. I came from a big family and I can totally relate to the drama (though my family isn’t this dramatic) but I don’t usually enjoy books that sound like a soup opera or a reality show. I totally get your issues with this story and yeah sometimes they could be addictive as well. Hehe
Awesome review, Kim. ❤️
Hehehe…yes big Italian family here.
Back in the day, I really enjoyed these type of stories, and this sounds pretty interesting. The hard part for me, I think, would be connecting with the characters. With my patience level these days, I fear this would end up as a DNF for that reason, but I like the idea of the story. Hugs and Happy Monday! RO
Surprisingly with all that was going on it held my attention and was one I consumed rather quickly
Well this sounds like a fun read. It’s a shame about the characters not being as developed as you would have liked though. I would have thought that for a book like this, you’d get to know them a bit better.
I think because we bounced around between POVs.
I can’t wait to start ready chrismassy books !
I love them too 🙂
I am not sure I want to try this one. The fact it reads like a soap opera is a turn off.
It really did but I enjoyed it.
I’ve been seeing this around and wondered about it. Your review has me half convinced I might enjoy it, I just have to figure out if I am in the mood for a soap opera. Great review!
LOL, it is different and despite it all, it did hold my attention.
Ah it looks a bit complicated regarding the characters there…
It really wasn’t, over the top yes, but readable.