11.11.2021

finished reading

 
This might count as my first holiday book of the season, although it's less about the holiday and more convenient for timing.  The story is about the dysfunctional Birch family--who all seem to take each other for granted.  They have to spend 7 days quarantined because the eldest daughter, Olivia, has been volunteering in an epidemic-riddled Liberia.  Matriarch Emma is a formidable martyr mother.  Her sacrifices for the family cause her to make poor choices to protect the holiday she envisions.  Andrew is the hero figure father, known for his sardonic restaurant reviews.  And Pheobe is indulged, privileged, and self-involved in a loveable way.

There is wit in this book although I wouldn't call it a comedy.  Without spoiling it, I will say the ending took me by surprise but showed the character arcs.

From the publisher:
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…



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