Title: Seven Days of Us
Author: Francesca Hornak
Published: 17 October 2017
For the first time in years, the Birch family will all be under one roof for Christmas. Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter, who is usually off saving the world as a doctor, is joining them at Weyfield hall, their aging country estate. Yet, the only reason Olivia is coming home is because she has to, she’s returned from treating an epidemic abroad and told she has to stay in quarantine for a week. So too should her family. For the next seven days, the Birches are on lock down, cut off from the rest of people and Wi-Fi, and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, frivolous Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems. Andrew shuts himself in his office writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, while Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.
I came across this as I was coming up with books for the Top Ten Tuesday topic books on my winter TBR. From the description I found, it seemed like a fun book to read over break, as well as being something similar to the movie, The Family Stone. This was a quick and easy read but gosh was I frustrated as I read this book.
I get that the British motto is “keep calm and carry on,” but does this mean they can’t sit down and talk!? This applies to all the characters but I’ll go in order.
First off, Andrew, the father. He’s not only writing scathing reviews for restaurants, work he doesn’t want to do, but trying to figure out how to handle a long lost son coming on the scene. When he was a war correspondent, he had a one night stand with a woman in Lebanon (I think it was Lebanon, I could be wrong, don’t hate me) and found out only a few years ago that she had a son she gave up for adoption. That’s not what’s bothering him during quarantine, it’s the fact that this son, Jesse, is coming to England for “work” and wants to meet him. Jesse is under the assumption that he was born way before Andrew started his relationship with Emma, however, since Emma’s upper-class, titled family wouldn’t like Andrew, they faked their first meeting. So, technically, Andrew cheated on Emma with Jesse’s mom.
Next up is Emma, who has found out only a couple of days earlier that she has cancer (I truly cannot remember what type) but refuses to let anyone in the family know. She especially doesn’t want Olivia to know because then she won’t come for Christmas. Overall, Emma tries to keep up a happy, family facade. She doesn’t’ want anyone on the outside or even her own family to know what’s really going on, as long as they can act like they’re all happy that’s all that matters.
Phoebe, the youngest of the Birches, is self-absorbed and only really cares about herself. She became engaged with her fiance, George, a few days before quarantine began. Yet, she isn’t in love with George, but more in the idea of being in love, of being married. She wants to be married so she doesn’t have to date anymore. There’s also the problem that George is either gay or bisexual.
Last on the list is Olivia, the doctor who is still reeling from the horrors of Haag and finding her family and their concerns trite in comparison. Olivia also has a secret, while she was working as a doctor, she met Shaun, an Irish pediatrician, who she broke protocols with and they had sex.
All of the Birches have issues communicating. Olivia has a difficult time talking with her family as they really don’t want to hear about what’s going on with Haag. Strangely, Olivia’s dad as a war correspondent could sympathize the most with what Olivia’s going through, but he’s so absorbed in what’s going on with Jesse that he doesn’t see what his daughter’s going through. Since, Emma is diagnosed with cancer she refuses to tell anyone, which is frustrating when you’re daughter is coming from a place with a deadly virus and you’re immunocompromised?!?!
I understand that Emma wants to see her elder daughter but how do you think you’re daughter will feel if she’s responsible for your death.
Phoebe’s issues are so annoying and her parents don’t help, as they baby her all the time. Since, Olivia doesn’t need them, they go overboard with Phoebe. Phoebe is so self-involved she doesn’t even notice that her fiance doesn’t really want to marry her, nor is he that into her either.
And Olivia is no better, as she decided at a young age to not rely on anyone and therefore, she has pretty much cut herself off from her family all these years. I’m also confused as to why she’s staying with her family. Wouldn’t the health department want her to be quarantined by herself in an apartment or some safe-house they set her up with? I was very confused by the set-up for this whole thing. Olivia is also keeping the secret of her relationship with Shaun a secret, and it isn’t helped by the fact that Shaun is diagnosed with Haag and is in quarantine at a London hospital. Since, no one knows about their relationship, Olivia suffers in silence. But, there’s more problems as Olivia slowly starts developing symptoms of Haag…it’s not Haag though. I knew pretty early that it wasn’t Haag but instead that Olivia was pregnant.
Once the Birch family finds out Olivia is pregnant and they’re all back in their London house, it brings them all together. So, crazy! I mean, it’s cute and all and makes for a fun story, but in reality, if they don’t actually work through their problems, then they will still be the same people. So, of course, to make them work more through their problems, Hornak kills off Shaun. He dies from Haag, Olivia is depressed for a few days later. Phoebe comes to the rescue and brings her sister out of it. But again, they need to actively work on themselves.
I know, I’m probably being too hard on what’s supposed to be a fun book. I did enjoy it and it was a fun read during Christmas break, so it did hit the spot for an enjoyable, no-thinking read.
Happy Reading Darlings!