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Published by Random House Large Print Publishing on October 17th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Holiday
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A family can't escape their secrets when they're forced to spend the Christmas holiday in quarantine in this "sharply funny" (People) novel--an Indie Next and #1 Library Reads Pick! "Witty and deeply heartfelt."--Emily Giffin "Perfect for fans of cozy Christmas films like Love Actually and The Family Stone. An emotional but ultimately uplifting holiday story."--Kirkus Reviews 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...
theSkimm Reads PickNew York Post Required ReadingOne of Elite Daily's Books to Read This FallLiz & Lisa's Best Books of OctoberBrit + Co's Best of October RoundupOne of BookRiot's October Must-Reads
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Seven Days of Us and I was very excited to dig into it! One of the things that excited me the most is that it is Francesca Hornak’s debut novel and that means the potential for a favourite new author. I had briefly glanced at a few reviews but I didn’t want to know too much going into it.
The first thing that I really liked about this novel was the point of view in which it was written. Each chapter focuses on a different character and their experience of the events so it was a good way to get right into knowing the characters. While it took me a while to actually like and feel for the characters, I think the perspective offered a great start.
The whole story revolves around the Birch family, who are upper-middle class British folks and each have very different personalities and ways of dealing with the situation that they are in. They are stuck together at the family’s country estate in quarantine because daughter Olivia is a doctor who was working abroad treating a viral epidemic. Let’s call it “the plague”. She was directed to stay in quarantine for one week following her return and that means her family is stuck there too.
There are surprises around every corner with Emma’s secret health issue, Andrew’s illegitimate son Jesse, Phoebe’s love life, and Olivia’s plague status. Some I saw coming from a mile away and others got me good! I was very entertained throughout. I do think that Hornak laid the cheese on a little bit thick at times but that may appeal to some people. While there definitely is a romance factor here and relationships are a big focus, I wouldn’t fully classify it as a Romance novel. More of a feel good, family, holiday one. Although it’s set at Christmas time, that’s actually a very small part of the plot so I would definitely read it any time of the year.
I mentioned that it took me a while to become attached to the characters. Other than Jesse. For some reason, Jesse had me right from the get-go. I think Andrew was the least relatable character for me. I found him snarky and cold … which I’m sure was intentional, especially at the beginning. I really enjoyed the dynamics between the family members. Instead of being one big happy family, the Birch’s were very real. Because of the point of view changing each chapter, it was fun to get both sides of the relationships.
It was generally light-hearted and funny but there Hornak also tackled some tough issues and feelings. Cancer, difficulty dealing with homosexuality, infidelity, and more but I don’t want to spoil too much. She discussed things in enough detail so as not to gloss over it, but didn’t dwell enough for things to get too dark and dreary.
Overall, I really liked Seven Days of Us! Not perfect, but a fantastic first novel for Francesca Hornak. I will be following along to see what she comes out with next!