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.Quirky characters, soap opera drama and a quarantine made Seven Days of Us an entertaining read. Click To Tweet