Title: Seven Days Of Us
Author: Francesca Hornak
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…
Seven Days of Us is a novel with many emotions – there’s humour, sadness, anger and stress, all rolled up (along with Christmassy feelings and interesting characters) into a well-written, warm novel!
I’m not sure exactly how to ‘categorize’ this novel – though it revolves around a family going into quarantine over Christmas because their eldest daughter has been treating victims of a contagious disease, called Haag, in Africa, it’s not all about this. It’s more about the family’s relationships and interactions as they’re forced to spend more time together than they usually do, and some of their secrets which come to the surface. The story, though there’s plenty of drama included, doesn’t feel overly dramatic and really manages to avoid being too cheesy, despite the family pulling together sometimes and experiencing emotional upheaval at other times.
The story focuses in on each family member at different times – mother Emma, father Andrew, daughters Olivia and Phoebe, plus Phoebe’s fiance George… and some other additions, which I won’t say much about so as not to ruin the story. I love stories which focus in on different narratives or people, and find it adds so much to the plot when you learn how each person is feeling, instead of seeing it all through one person’s eyes.
Seven Days of Us touches upon so many different themes, but never feels rushed, and somehow manages to be exactly the right levels of light-hearted fun and seriousness! It’s also a thought-provoking read and its characters – some lovely, some annoying, all refreshingly dysfunctional in their own way – really drew me in so that I didn’t want to stop reading! Highly recommended.
Many thanks to Piatkus for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.
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