Quercus Books 16th April 2020
When 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.
Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but there are slim pickings in her tiny Yorkshire village.
Leena has a solution for both their problems: a two-month switch. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire and find what she’s lost in her busy city life.
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.
I previously read and reviewed Beth O’Leary’s debut novel The Flatshare, which I enjoyed, you can read my review here, so I was delighted to receive an early copy of The Switch and little did I know how perfect a ‘lockdown’ read this would be.
Meet Leena and her fabulous Grandmother, Eileen, both a little jaded with their lives and both wanting things that are not easily accessible in their current set up, so they agree to switch places for a couple of months. Eileen heads on to live her time in the capital, a regret hanging over from her youth when she opted for marriage instead of pursing an opportunity in London. Meanwhile Leena, burnt out and grief stricken following her sister’s death is in desperate need to slow down and reflect on her loss and it’s impact.
The book largely follows its expected trajectory, a journey of self discovery and recovery for both women, empowering in their independence and drive for change and adventure. Surrounded by some terrific characters – cool and welcoming in London, while the folk in rural Yorkshire are a little more quirky but equally endearing. The book is entertaining and the story is told in alternating chapters detailing the lives of Eileen and Leena during their Switch. Both women’s accounts are in the first person and in general this worked well, although there were perhaps one or two occasions where I needed to double check who I was reading about. As with much contemporary fiction this book stayed on course, it was a feel good read with a delightful and happy ending with a decent helping of drama en route. A strong read in its genre, I predict this book with be as popular as its predecessor – dare I say I prefer it to The Flatshare. Highly recommended by me and right now for anyone who wants an uplifting read while so many are on lockdown.
About the Author
Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages.
She wrote her debut novel The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher.
She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.