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?
Beth O'Leary was one of the first authors I came across when I created this blog and in those 2 years she has continued to take the book world by storm. I absolutely loved The Flatshare; it is the ideal feel good, laugh out loud book. There are some cringe moments but because the book is so good overall, you embrace the cheesiness and fall in love with the characters and O'Leary as an author. So that said, I had very high expectations for The Switch and couldn't wait to finally read it.
I'll cut to the chase and say I really enjoyed it but I did prefer The Flatshare. That saying it is a really lovely light, fun and easy read. O'Leary sticks with what she knows and does well and brings the author into the world of her characters. The tone of voice is really fun and witty and you fall in love with the people you meet in this book; from Eileen through to Leena's neighbours.
But the story isn't all fun and games and O'Leary finds the perfect balance in showing us how deeply routes Eileen and Leena's grief is and what they need to do in order to come out the other side.
I did prefer Eileen's story to Leena's and there were a few different reasons;
1. I absolutely loved Eileen as a character, she is such a breath of fresh air and I hope I am as lively as she is when I am her age!
2. Leena's story was very predictable and I have read many like it before but Eileen's was fun, light hearted (but also had a lot of depth) and reminded me most of The Flatshare.
3. Eileen really owned her story and there was a lot more depth to it - of course Leena grew a lot as a person in her own journey of self discovery but details if Eileen's 'escapades' stuck with more - both because they were hilarious and they were also so full of genuine connection and emotion.
Overall, The Switch is a really enjoyable book. Whether you're on the beach or on the couch, it is the perfect feel good book that you can speed through in one sitting. I can't wait to read some of O'Leary's more recent releases!
IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:
'You were healing. You’re still healing. You’ll maybe always be healing. And that’s OK. It’ll just be part of what makes you you.'
Eileen, she was gas and such a joyful character!