Seven Days of Us

British journalist Francesca Hornak makes her fiction debut with Seven Days of Us, a self-assured dramedy. The wealthy Birches of London--Andrew, Emma and their two grown daughters, Olivia and Phoebe--haven't shared the holidays under the same roof in years, but as Christmas 2016 approaches, they prepare to spend an entire week locked up together in the family home. Olivia, freshly back from a stint treating the deadly Haag virus epidemic in Liberia, must remain quarantined for a week after returning to the U.K., and so must anyone who comes in contact with her.

None of the Birches feels thrilled by the prospect of the coming week. Emma is overjoyed to have her children home, but she recently received a frightening diagnosis of the lump under her arm and is afraid to tell anyone, even Andrew. Now a successful restaurant reviewer, Andrew got his start in journalism covering the Lebanese civil war, and had a brief fling in Beirut. Now, this 36-year-old mistake has come back to haunt him in the form of Jesse, the son he's recently learned he has. Phoebe says yes to her boyfriend's proposal and starts planning her dream wedding, doggedly ignoring her own lack of enthusiasm for the groom. As the family limps through the holidays, they must decide whether to let their secrets tear them apart or bring them, finally, back together.

Hornak spends time looking through each character's eyes, and readers' sympathies will shift with each change in point of view. The richly defined inner lives of the Birches propel the story as they try to feel their way through their individual crises. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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