Dr. Olivia Birch has avoided spending Christmas with her
family for years, however this year returning from Liberia
on a humanitarian mission, she has to be quarantined for
seven days, so she will do it with her family and kill two
birds with one stone, so to speak. And it is on December
23rd that Olivia arrives at her family's country estate,
knowing full well that she would rather be elsewhere, namely
Africa. Olivia has never felt quite comfortable with her own
family: her father Andrew prefers her younger sister Phoebe,
who is only thinking of getting ready for her wedding, while
mother Emma frets over nothing. Olivia is not in a holiday
mood when others need her farther from home.
My fingers are itching, but I will not reveal spoilers, as
there are a few epic ones. SEVEN DAYS OF US is Francesca
Hornak's brilliant debut novel, and while with this sort of
premise, I knew there will be laughs, tears, bickering,
redemption, and explosive secrets, most of them were not
what I expected. Ms. Hornak has made very interesting
literary choices with the structure of SEVEN DAYS OF US:
while written in the third person, chapters are told from
the various main characters' perspectives and the pacing at
which the details are revealed is impeccable; this is the
type of book where you know that you have to pay attention
to little details, and you do, because the story is uniquely
captivating and takes you by surprise almost every time.
SEVEN DAYS OF US is a book I had to read in one sitting
because it would not let me go.
The characters are beautifully multi-faceted, far from being
caricatures or those eccentrics that often appear when you
have a family in close quarters for some time, they feel
like people anywhere, and some of them have secrets. I was
glued to the page awaiting the reveals, nearly clapping my
hands at what was to come, to be proven completely wrong!
What a joy when an author manages to surprise me so many
times in the course of a book. An element is revealed, but
how will the family react to it? How is it going to affect
them? I was waiting with bated breath and so confident, even
after only a few chapters, that Ms. Hornak would spin a
twist that would delight me!
It is a trend these days that authors write series instead
of real stand-alone books, which had me wondering: would I
rather imagine what the lives of some of the Birches' will
be next, or would I rather have Ms. Hornak write it for me?
In any case, Francesca Hornak is a welcome new voice in the
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...
Itâ€™s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire
Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrewâ€™s
elder daughterâ€”who is usually off saving the worldâ€”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,
sheâ€™s been told she must stay in quarantine for a weekâ€¦and
so too should her family.
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut
off from the rest of humanityâ€”and even decent Wi-Fiâ€”and
forced into each otherâ€™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 whoâ€™s about to