Summary and book reviews of Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Seven Days of Us

A Novel

by Francesca Hornak

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak X
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
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  • Published:
    Oct 2017, 368 pages

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Book Summary

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…

Prologue
November 17, 2016

Olivia

Cape Beach, Monrovia, Liberia, 1:03 a.m.

Olivia knows what they are doing is stupid. If seen, they will be sent home—possibly to a tribunal. Never mind that to touch him could be life-threatening. But who will see them? The beach is deserted and so dark she can just see a few feet into the inky sea. The only sound is the swooshing drag of the waves. She is acutely aware of the tiny gap between their elbows, as they walk down to the surf. She wants to say, "We shouldn't do this," except they haven't done anything. They still haven't broken the No-Touch rule.

The evening had begun in the beach bar, with bottled beers and then heady rum and Cokes. They had sat under its corrugated iron roof for hours, a sputtering hurricane lamp between them, as the sky flared bronze. They had talked about going home for Christmas in five weeks, and how they both wanted to come back to Liberia. She told him about Abu, the little boy she had treated and ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Is there one character you relate to more than any other in this story? If so, why?
  2. How well do you think Francesca Hornak captures the family dynamic of a week in quarantine over the holidays?
  3. Do you think it was better/right for Andrew to conceal his one-off infidelity with Jesse's mother? Or should he have spoken up and told Emma at the time?
  4. Why did Olivia stay away from her family for so long? Have you ever experienced the feeling of not being able to be yourself with your family?
  5. Discuss the sibling rivalry between Olivia and Phoebe. Why do you think we, as adults, fall into old roles when home with family? Have you experienced this?
  6. What do you think kept Phoebe and George together for six years?
  7. Did you empathize with ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

If you enjoy modern family stories with a twist, don't miss this one (Beth T). This would be a great book club read, plenty of topics for discussion, like family secrets, sibling rivalry and cancer, just to name a few (Jennie R). Readers who enjoyed The Nest will probably eat this novel up (Anita P).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review Members Only (694 words).

Media Reviews

People
Sharply funny.

People
Sharply funny.

The Associated Press

You will laugh at hilarious situations and be touched by others.

Author Blurb Marian Keyes
LOVED it! Warm and humane, funny and sad, with a great, twisty plot, Seven Days of Us is absolute pleasure reading from beginning to end. Francesca Hornak is a true talent. Just gorgeous!

Author Blurb Rosamund Lupton, New York Times bestselling author
Francesca Hornak is hilariously funny with characters that jump off the page, grab you, and just won't let go.

Author Blurb Stephanie Clifford, New York Times bestselling author of Everybody Rise
With its wry observations on class, family, and veddy-British traditions, Francesca Hornak's absorbing debut sparkles with glints of Nancy Mitford and Julian Fellowes.

Author Blurb Emily Giffin
Witty and deeply heartfelt.

Reader Reviews

Karine R. (Highland Mills, NY)

Could I do it?
I was hooked from the first page! It's been quite a while since I've read a book that had me running back for the next page. I found myself wondering if I could survive a week quarantined with my dysfunctional siblings? I truly loved how they all ...   Read More

Cindy B. (Houston, TX)

Not to be missed!
Seven Days of Us starts out slowly but stay with it because it is one of the best books I have read in a while. Told in alternating viewpoints, the Birch family chronicles the seven days they spend in quarantine (or as the patriarch Andrew Birch ...   Read More

Elizabeth P. (Lake Elmo, MN)

Great, Fun Read!
Seven Days of Us was a super lighthearted yet real & honest take on family life. We all have issues, we all have struggles with our family relationships, and at the end of the day we all love each other and want the best for one another and those ...   Read More

Kenan R. (Liberty, MO)

Fast Fun Read!
I breezed through this book, thoroughly enjoying it and rooting for the characters even when they weren't being particularly likeable! Francesca Hornack does an excellent job of presenting the Birches as a family of archetypal "characters" and then ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Holiday Survival Guide

Norman Rockwell's ChristmasIn Seven Days Of Us, Francesca Hornak has her characters quarantined for seven days during the holiday season; Days trapped with one's family is stressful enough, but the added pressure of "The Holidays" can really turn up the heat. 

So why, one might ask, are the holidays a particularly stressful time for so many? First, for those who celebrate Christmas, there's a myth that it's a joyful, stress-free time when one is supposed to feel love for all humankind. Those of us in the West – even those who don't necessarily celebrate Christmas – have been brainwashed by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, in which families from all walks of life celebrate merrily, even those in impoverished conditions. ...

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