My 2020 was all about comfort reading. I bought a bunch of well-received mysteries and horror novels and then, when I started reading them, I just couldn’t deal. My brain wasn’t up for anything that wasn’t a happy ending. So I’m glad I discovered Beth O’Leary.
Last year around this time, I was in London, and I saw ads for The Flatshare in all of the tube stations and at all of the bookstores. Not knowing anything about it, I bought it, threw it in my suitcase, and promptly forgot about it when I got home. And then a few Cannonballers started to review it…and I remembered I had it, and there was much rejoicing.
A quick blurbing:
Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.
After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.
Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.
Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.
But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.
I really liked the fact that these characters were capital-A Adults, who had real, important things going on in their lives. It wasn’t just a meet-cute, fall in love story. It was a story about two people who find each other, support each other, and make each other’s lives better.
Leon’s brother is in jail, serving time for a crime he swears he did not commit, and Leon spends all of his free time trying to help get him home. Leon’s very practical girlfriend thinks this is a waste of time and effort, which leads to many disagreements between them.
Tiffy is pretty much suffering from PTSD after her last boyfriend. She just needs some time to figure that out. She has lovely friends who have been trying to help her through her breakup, but they just can’t seem to get her to see just how bad things were when she was still with her boyfriend.
Of course Leon and Tiff become the supportive friend that they each needed at exactly the right time. 1000% expected and yet not in the least disappointing.
I really enjoyed it and was so pleased to see that she had another book, The Switch, out in paperback, which I ordered from my local bookstore and had delivered to my doorstep later that day.
Blurb, part two:
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 long-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.
So they decide to try a two-month swap.
Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.
But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything….or to find yourself.
This one was also quite cute. I love any book that takes place in a quaint British village filled with CHARACTERS. But I didn’t quite love it as much as The Flatshare.
I very much liked Eileen, and was glad that she was out finding herself (and dating!) in London, but didn’t necessarily buy any of her “lets fix up the lobby and create a seniors club” plot. I enjoyed how she bonded with all of Leena’s friends, and that none of them seemed bothered at all to be hanging out with an octogenarian.
I didn’t quite love Leena as much. Yes, she had PROBLEMS she needed to work out, and the countryside seemed to be helpful in that regard. But her whole plot just seemed forced in order to offset Eileen’s. I feel like the book was supposed to be about Leena, but I thought the real star was Eileen.
Leena seemed to have created most of her own problems. I mean, clearly she couldn’t have prevented her sister’s death (NOT A SPOILER), but she was so stubborn her relationship with her mother that so easily could have been fixed in two seconds. And the same with her boyfriend, who really, absolutely, was the worst. She should have sent him on his way the minute he didn’t have time to visit her in the country.
Nevertheless, cute shenanigans in a wacky small town, a big goofy dog, and cute kids in strange costumes will always win me over in the end.
Glad to see O’Leary has a new book coming out in a few months. Can’t wait to go out to a real bookstore next year and buy it.