She’s done it again. Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare was my book of 2019 but I think The Switch is even better – which, as I gave the first five stars, is going to make rating it interesting.
I started reading it just as UK Lockdown kicked in and it was the perfect escape – in fact, maybe the government should have sent a copy of this to every household rather than the letter?
It is has the perfect mix of engaging plot, eclectic characters and brilliant writing which adds up to a tale that is emotional, funny and full of heart.
Here’s the blurb:
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
It was with some trepidation that I started this book. The Flatshare was so good, I felt there was no way Beth could match it but she goes beyond that.
Both Leena and Eileen come alive on the pages and I love how they embrace the switch – and how it plays out for both of them. One of the best things is how Beth portrays older people. Eileen might be 79 but she grasps life with both hands – especially in London. It’s exciting to read.
Beth writes with such warmth and humour but also highlights some important issues such as loneliness and emotional abuse. I found the book very empowering. Women supporting women, friends supporting friends – exactly what we need, especially at the moment.
I have no idea how she will top The Switch (but I have every confidence she will).
Price: £6.49 (via Amazon).
My rating: All the stars.
With many thanks to Quercus (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.