Originally published: 16 April 2020
Author: Beth O’Leary
Published by: Quercus Books
Length: 400 pages
Reading dates: 8-11 December 2019
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
I was so, so lucky to pick up an early proof of this at a Quercus event (signed and numbered!) as I adored The Flatshare. I told all my female friends how wonderful it was and they all bought copies and agreed with me! It was also in my top 10 books of 2019!
I adore Beth’s writing and I have to admit I was a little nervous of reading The Switch but I needn’t of feared as this is another amazing book!
Leena Cotton is living the life in London, with a boyfriend, great mates and a good job. But she is falling apart having lost her sister to cancer a year previously. She is angry with her sister for what she sees as giving up and her mum for not pushing for more treatment. After a disastrous presentation at work she is given two months paid leave and decides to go and visit her grandmother Eileen, who lives in the sleepy little village of Hamleigh-in-Harksdale in the Yorkshire Dales.
Eileen is looking for love after splitting up with her husband after he had an affair. However, the pickings in Hamleigh are limited at best. While Leena is visiting, they have the idea to switch their lives – Leena will live in Hamleigh, taking over the organising of neighbourhood watch and the May Day celebrations, while Eileen will go and stay in Leena’s London flat to try to find love.
Reading this, I was instantly transported back to the magic that is Beth O’Leary’s writing. I felt like I truly knew Eileen and Leena within the first couple of chapters and as I enjoyed reading about both of their lives. She writes characters so well, especially strong female leads who are hugely relatable.
Leena’s character made me want to mother her – having not been able to grieve for the loss of her sister, and having lost any sort of relationship with her mum, whom she can’t forgive, to begin with she is lost and just in need of recovery. But as she becomes engrained in the lives of the (mostly elderly) people of her grandmothers village, she starts to recover and put her talents to good use.
Eileen was amazing – it is unusual to read of an elderly women in a story who is fun, outgoing, wants to find love and still have sex! She is a little out of her depth when she first arrives in London, but with Leena’s friends on hand to give her advice on dating, she soon starts to enjoy herself!
Another 5 star read for me – yet again I will be championing this book to everyone I know. If you loved The Flatshare, I promise you will love this too!
Many thanks to Quercus Books for providing me with an ARC from the Quercus 2020 event.
About the author:
Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being within reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.
You’ll usually find her curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).