Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak. Thanks to Beth Wright of Piatkus for providing the review copy of the book and inviting me to join the tour. Here is what the book is all about.
It’s Christmas, and the Birch family is gathering for the first time in years.
Olivia, the eldest daughter, has returned from treating an epidemic abroad and must go into quarantine for seven days. Her mother has decided it’s the perfect opportunity to spend some ‘special time’ together. Her youngest sister wholeheartedly disagrees. Her father isn’t allowed an opinion.
When no one can leave the house, seven days for the Birches feels like an eternity.
Especially when they’re all harbouring secrets. One of whom is about to come knocking at their door…
Imagine being forced to stay in your home with your family over Christmas. Seven whole days of nothing but your togetherness and your history. No going out, no physical contact with the outside world over anything but social media. Imagine having to watch people you loved in trouble, facing a life threatening illness, knowing that you cannot go to their side.
This is exactly what is facing the Birch family in Seven Days of Us. Eldest daughter Olivia has just returned from treating an epidemic abroad and is forced into a seven day quarantine over the festive period. Knowing that her family want to see her, she agrees to join them at their old Norfolk estate house, knowing that this means they will be forced into quarantine too. Personally I could think of nothing worse, but in truth it is probably exactly what this family needs. A chance to get to know each other properly. To remember the things that made them special and strong that they have begun to forget.
The Birch family really could be any family in the UK. Other than their career oaths, there is nothing particularly special or remarkable about them. And yet I found myself completely engaged in their story, perhaps because they could be any one of us. The divisions which have arisen. The difficulty they have in communicating with each other. The mother, Emma’s desire to have a perfect family Christmas even though she is hiding a devastating secret of her own.
The book really explored the family dynamic and what makes us as individuals tick. The routines we go through and the traditions we cling to as we navigate life. It felt real, believable. The pain that Olivia felt when her lover was taken ill emanates from the page, her frustration at not being able to go and see him, or to acknowledge that their relationship even happened, banned as they were from physical contact while they were working abroad. Whilst she seems to be quite a reserved and self contained character, there is far more to Olivia than you realise.
Olivia is someone who has learned to hide her emotions in a family where expressing your true feelings it not a natural state of affairs. I liked her resolve and her strength of character, even if, on occasion, I just wanted to yell at her to lighten up. She is so unlike her sister Phoebe, who you wanted to tell to grow up and face her responsibilities. being in quarantine certainly cramped her style and she came across as spoiled and privileged, although, as I got to know her, I found her more likeable.
There is one slight twist in the tale. Not just with the complications that arise when Phoebe’s fiance decides to gatecrash their quarantine, although that in itself if far more complicated than you realise. But on top of this the father, Andrew, is contacted by someone from his past, a man who has the power to change everything for the whole family. I’m not going to say who and how because you need to read that for yourself.
The book is told from the points of view of all of the key protagonists and you do have to concentrate a little in the beginning to get your head around who is who. But the voices are very distinct, unique, and in order for the book to really work you do need to be inside each of their heads in turn to understand the impact of their confinement upon them. This is a book that will surprise you, perhaps even make you cry, but ultimately leave you feeling hopeful, the epilogue providing perhaps the most poignant moment of the whole book.
Seven Days of Us is available to purchase from the following retailers:
If you’d like to win a copy of Seven Days of Us then please enter below by following one or all of the options in the link. The competition is open for today only and the winner will be notified over the weekend.
About the Author
Francesca Hornak is an author, journalist and former columnist for the Sunday Times Style magazine. Her debut novel Seven Days Of Us (Little, Brown) was long-listed for the Desmond Elliott Prize and has been sold in fourteen countries. Little Island Productions and Entertainment One have TV rights to the book. Francesca’s work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Economist, The Guardian, ES Magazine, Elle and Marie Claire. She is the author of two nonfiction books, History of the World in 100 Modern Objects: Middle Class Stuff (and Nonsense) and Worry with Mother.
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