It’s Christmas, and the Birch family is gathering for the first time in years.
Emma is elated at having everybody under one roof, but her eldest child, Olivia is only home because she has nowhere else to go. She’s just returned from treating an epidemic abroad and must stay in quarantine for a week – and so too should her family. For the next seven days no-one can leave the house and no-one can enter.
It doesn’t sound too hard. But a week with our nearest and dearest can feel like an eternity, especially when they’re all harbouring secrets. One of whom is about to come knocking at the door…
Praise from the Desmond Elliott Prize
“A cool narrative despite the searing emotional element and a crisp, dry writing style counter any more tearful tendencies. A plot which begins, flourishes from improbable coincidence, finishes seemingly by naturalistic design. The Birches in turmoil, thrashing one another with their angst and fret, at first-sight roundly flawed, acutely dislikeable, transform on deeper acquaintance – on the opening of their emotive passports, date-stamped and poignantly detailed. By sleight of hand and sly wit, Hornak charms winning individuality from mass dysfunction, sweetly blended kinship from acerbic friction. Just as she conjures mesmerising drama from detonating scenes of crisis, to the accompaniment of cracking dialogue. All of which produces, in this house, with this cast, a performance to be swapped for many a Christmas.”
About the Author
Francesca Hornak is a journalist and writer, whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, the Guardian, Marie Claire, Red, Grazia and Stylist. Her column History Of The World In 100 Modern Objects first appeared in The Sunday Times Style magazine in 2013 and ran for two years, later becoming a title with Portico. Francesca is also the author of a second non-fiction book, Worry with Mother (Portico).