Friday, 24 November 2017

Book Review: SEVEN DAYS OF US by Francesca Hornak (#SevenDaysOfUs #NetGalley)

Author: Francesca Hornak
Hachette Australia
November 2017
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟1/2

Book Description (Goodreads):

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…

My musings:

I love a good family drama, and seeing that it is nearing the end of November, I thought I should take myself out of my murder & mayhem comfort zone and join the ever-growing festive spirit that has been emerging on Goodreads with readers joyfully delving into Christmas stories. Mind you, there is more panic than festivity in the Birch household as they are facing a “Haag arrest” over Christmas, a voluntary seven-day quarantine in their grand old mansion in Norfolk after the older daughter Olivia’s return from Liberia where she has been treating victims of the deadly Haag virus. I can just imagine the tension of being cooped up with your nearest and dearest over a whole week, without the possibility of escaping into the company of others or outside for even just a little while. And it doesn’t help that each member of the Birch family harbours a secret that has the potential to seriously interrupt their fake bonhomie if it ever came to light. Of course, lies have a way of raising their ugly heads like vipers in the grass at the most inopportune moments, throwing the family into one crisis after another.

Whilst I found none of the Birches particularly endearing, as was no doubt intended, the drama soon engulfed me and sucked me into its fold, and I was irrevocably hooked. There are some very dysfunctional dynamics hiding behind these musty walls, most of which could have been resolved with a good heart-to-heart over a few glasses of egg-nogg; but let’s face it, we often don’t state the obvious, do we? I think that most of the story’s irresistible draw lay in my dusty memories of Christmases past, when countless dramas unfolded as the whole extended family met – and argued out all their grievances they had been saving up for a year.

Whilst there were a few quite predictable and sometimes slightly stereotypical elements and the brief threat of a corny romance (oh horror!), Seven Days of Us was a light and entertaining book about a family in crisis that would make a perfect Christmas holiday read whilst trying to survive your own family dramas. Written from several different POVs and featuring all the Birch family members in short and precise chapters, I got a feel for all the characters involved and the story moved along at a good pace. I could see this turned into a TV series, because everyone likes a good drama at the expense of other families, even just for the chance to thank fate that these are not our kin (or perhaps not). I did think that there were a few issues with character development (most characters never quite managed to move out of their stereotype) and would have loved to see a bit more “cutting edge” conflict and wit, but it was nonetheless entertaining and kept me turning the pages. 


Seven Days of Us is a light, entertaining and reasonably feel-good drama about an unusual family Christmas – perfect reading whilst being holed up in your room whilst trying to avoid your own relos at the annual Christmas do. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hachette Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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