The week before Christmas is the perfect time to curl up with a holiday story. Whether it be a long drive cross country, a few stolen moments between festivities, or a quiet afternoon by the tree, a Christmas novel is the best way to warm the heart and get you into the spirit of the season. Over the next seven days I will be sharing the books I am indulging in this season, and hopefully you find one that speaks to you too.
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak puts the fun in a dysfunctional family. After returning home from treating a haag virus outbreak in Africa, Dr. Olivia Birch and her family are placed in quarantine for a week over Christmas. Seven days with no one entering or leaving their aging country manor.
The cast is a colorful bunch: Phoebe is the baby of the family, just engaged and a self-centered millennial who chronicles her life through Instagram and uses vision boards to plan her wedding. Olivia is the sage older sister, with a low tolerance for frivolity and a deep passion for social justice. Andrew is a discontent father: war correspondent turned food critic with the arrival of his daughters, and Emma is the glue of the family: doing her best to provide a maternal anchor. The four walls quickly close in in this Christmas story, and hidden secrets are ripped into the open. How well do you really know the people you share your life with?
The story is one for fans of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections with the big difference being the characters are actually a bit likeable. In the dialogue and events I could easily see my own family (the sisterly relationship between Phoebe and Olivia echoes my own experience), and the tale is told from the various family members’ point of views. The prose was simple in a cut to the chase manner, with strong characters driving the story. The plot line is kind of like a slow cooker soup: starts out slow but as things heat up and begin to simmer that’s when the flavor is released. The book goes up through the New Year, so well worth bringing along when you need to hide from your family over the next few weeks. 4 out of 5 stars.