It’s Christmas and a very special Christmas for the Birch Family. The oldest daughter, Olivia, is coming home from an assignment in Monrovia, Liberia taking care of victims of the highly contagious Haag Virus. Because of the contagious nature of the virus, Olivia and her family must be quarantined for seven days after she arrives.
As usual, they elect to spend Christmas at Weyfield Hall, the old Manor House passed down through Emma, the mother’s family. Each family member is dealing with secrets: love, a fraught engagement, a cancer diagnosis and the appearance of an illegitimate child. As the family members struggle with their demons, they begin to come together as a supportive family, gaining understanding of each other.
The novel starts slowly with Olivia’s romance in Monrovia. At first I found the characters not likable. They were all steeped in their own problems. Andrew, the father, was rude; Emma, clingy; and the younger daughter, Phoebe, totally self centered. However, as the week progressed they began to come out of their isolated personas and become attuned to eachother’s needs.
By the end of the novel, I enjoyed the family’s interactions. I can’t say this is a humorous book. The problems and interactions are rather sad than amusing. However, the characters are well developed and the story line has twists. If you enjoy family dramas, you may like this book.
I received this book from Penguin Random House for the review.