The Flatshare was one of the most hyped up books in romance of the last year – everyone from bloggers to booktubers to casual readers, it seems like every who has picked this book has loved it – and that kind of reputation around a book tends to make me hesitant to read it. Fortunately, when I set my hesitations aside (and sat down to read it) I was blown away – The Flatshare was a truly unique story with genuinely quirky characters and deft handling of serious topics like gaslighting and emotionally abusive relationships.
Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
Beth O’Leary’s writing is like a hug – it’s warm and cozy, and perfect for a quiet rainy Saturday. Even in its darkest moments – which this book had a surprising amount of – The Flatshare was a persistently positive book. Overall, its themes were that of taking control of your life and learning to not settle for anything.
This book is literally about the relationship between two characters who didn’t even meet each other for at least the first half of the book. I can’t imagine how hard that was to write – how do you build chemistry between two characters who only write short sticky notes to each other for months? It really shows Beth O’Leary’s writing prowess that she was able to build a rapport between Leon and Tiffy – and some amazing chemistry.
I can’t stand ‘quirky’ characters – all too often they’re either not actually quirky (wearing glasses does not make you different or unique) or they’re over the top and a caricature of the idea of quirky. Beth O’Leary hit the sweet spot on this – Tiffy was a truly, truly quirky character. She was fantastically odd – she dressed eccentrically (for her own enjoyment and not for anyone else), was often offbeat in social situations, and was just over all pretty odd. All of the above simply made her more endearing and relatable – she wasn’t a flawless person, and those flaws helped to humanize her.
Leon, on the other hand, wasn’t a typical romance male lead – he was shy, a little reclusive, and was in touch with his feelings. Also, it’s super minor, but male nurses are pretty underrepresented in media in general, so it was really nice to see Leon be a nurse. In terms of his relationship with Tiffy – they felt realistic and authentic together. Their biggest dramatic blow up was over a misunderstanding in a moment with Tiffy’s ex-boyfriend, and even that was resolved via honest communication.
The side characters were great in this book – Tiffy’s friends in particular. They were well defined, had their own subplots that contributed to the overall plot, and were insanely supportive of Tiffy. I really loved how they supported her through the ending of her abusive relationship with her ex – they worked with her through her issues at her own pace. They never plied her with unsolicited advice, and never victim shamed her. Honestly, they were some of the best friends to a main character I’ve read in a long time. As a whole, this book treated the subject of gaslighting and emotional abuse with surprising grace and adeptness – I wasn’t expecting such dark themes to show up in this book and was very pleased with how they were handled.
I’m almost glad I waited so long to finally read The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – since her next book is now just a few months away from release (and I’ve been lucky enough to snag an advance copy) so I don’t have to wait. I can’t wait to dive back into Beth O’Leary’s writing – she has a true skill for shifting between poignant moments and romantic ones without feeling forced or artificial. If you are looking for a breath of fresh air in the romance genre – check out The Flatshare and keep your eyes peeled for The Switch – O’Leary’s sophomore book. Also – I am dying for this to be made into a movie! 5/5