Sunday, October 15, 2017

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

What I Say....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 her older sister, Olivia, deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems. 
Their father, Andrew, sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent. But his wife, Emma, is hiding 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…

What I Say.....Can you imagine being quarantined with your family for seven days?  First of all, I don't think that I would subject my family to the chance of catching a deadly virus from me.  Secondly, I don't think I would subject anyone to a week locked in a house with me in a bad mood.  And Olivia is in a bad mood.  

She's distant from her family, and not excited at all to be home with her parents and sister.  Olivia is a little bit (a lot) self righteous, and looks down on what she perceives to be superficiality or having lavish meals after spending the last few years in a remote country that is riddled with disease and poverty.  

Her younger sister Phoebe is her exact opposite.  She is her father's favorite, and happy just to have a hot boyfriend and frivolous career.  Having her serious sister home grates on her nerves, and threatens to take some of her father's attention away from her.

Increasing the stress level is their mother, Emma, who has a lump that she is waiting for test results on, but she is determined not to let it affect her family's Christmas, so she is keeping it secret.  Their father's secret son has decided to make contact with his new family, even though Andrew has made the cowardly decision not to answer his emails.

Add in Olivia's boyfriend who is fighting for his life in his own quarantine, and Phoebe's boyfriend who seems to be hiding a big secret, and emotions will continue to bubble up until they can't be contained anymore.

Honestly, this book had a great storyline, good writing, but I really didn't care about any of the characters.  They all seemed selfish in their own way, or in Emma's case, such a pushover that I had no sympathy.  It wasn't until the end that I began to care about any of them.

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