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Source: Review copy from Berkley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Francesca Hornak’s Seven Days of Us follows the Birch family as they are forced to spend the week of the Christmas holidays in quarantine in their Norfolk estate, Weyfield Hall. The Birch family — Andrew, a former war correspondent turned food critic; Emma, who put her dreams on hold to assume the role of family manager and caregiver; and their daughters, Olivia, a doctor whose work in Liberia treating victims of the Haag virus is the reason for the seven-day quarantine, and Phoebe, whose self-centeredness puts her at odds with her sister — are less than thrilled about being cooped up in the old house together.

Emma, whose memories of the old days prevent her from allowing improvements to her dilapidated family home, hopes that keeping to the family holiday traditions will bring them all together. But the rest of the family is just going through the motions. Andrew spends much of his time alone in the smoking room, wondering whether or not to respond to emails that are certain to further weaken his already tenuous bonds with his wife and daughters. Phoebe is focused on her relationship with George and their future, not understanding why Olivia is so sullen upon her return from Liberia and so serious about the quarantine. Olivia knows that her family doesn’t understand what she’s seen, and that they don’t really want to. Each one of them is carrying a secret that is bound to come out over the course of the week, and the stresses of maintaining normalcy are pushed to the breaking point when a stranger arrives at their door.

In Seven Days of Us, Hornak amplifies the challenges of celebrating the holidays as a family, especially when they have grown apart over the years. The quarantine keeps the family on edge and within the boundaries of the estate, when normally they would retreat when the going gets tough. Apart from an over-the-top coincidence at the beginning of the book, the story feels believable. Hornak does a great job telling the story from each character’s point of view within such a short time frame — the one-week quarantine — and keeping each viewpoint distinct. I felt like I got to know each character, understand their motivations, and watch them evolve and grow. It was hard to like these characters, but I became more connected to them (or, at the very least, grew to appreciate them) over the course of the book.

I enjoyed Seven Days of Us as a whole, as the characters and their secrets were interesting, the premise clever, and the pacing and flow spot-on. I definitely would recommend it for readers who like stories about family secrets and conflicts, and I look forward to reading more by Hornak in the future.

Disclosure: I received Seven Days of Us from Berkley for review.

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Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak is being released by Berkley on October 17, 2017, but the publisher is generously offering an early galley giveaway to my readers!

About Seven Days of Us

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…

Check out Seven Days of Us on Goodreads | Amazon (pre-order)

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Giveaway

The publisher is offering an early galley of Seven Days of Us to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, September 3, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Stay tuned for a release day spotlight and review here on October 17!

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