A review copy was generously provided by Macmillan Audio
A few weeks ago, I finally got around to reading The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. It was one of those books that had a ton of hype in the romance genre – and, for me, it definitely lived up to the hype. Recently, when Netgalley debuted audiobook review copies, I was over the moon – and when I saw that The Switch by Beth O’Leary was a Read Now title, I didn’t even hesitate before downloading it.
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?
The Switch is told from two points of view – that of Leena and her grandmother Eileen. They’re at two drastically different points in their lives – Leena is burnt out from her demanding city corporate job and Eileen is wondering what life is like outside of her tiny village. When they decide to switch places, the rotating POV really provided great contrast between their situations.
Eileen, as a 79-year-old woman, was dealing with her regrets over the decisions she made throughout her life and the opportunities she had lost. When she launched her two-month stint in London, we got to see her approach the big city with small town naiveté. During her time in London she didn’t become a completely different person – she embraced her village experiences and used them to bring people together in London. The best part of her story was that she never fundamentally changed who she was – by the end of the book she was an improved version of Eileen rather than a new person altogether.
Leena’s journey was mostly focused on her learning to slow down and stop running from the pain of her past. Her main source of pain was the passing of her sister a few years prior. This was a major albatross around her neck – one that she had to work through during her two-month stint in Eileen’s village. While she took time to learn to slow down and unplug from work, she also learned just how hard her grandmother worked to bring the community together. And that right there is the core of this book – Eileen and Leena both had to learn traits and skills from each other in order to become their best selves. Plus, they each had a very cute romance (which didn’t hurt).
The Switch was a big departure from The Flatshare – and that fact really helped to cement her in my auto-buy author list. This book was heartwarming and wholesome, never dealing in stereotypes or leaning on common tropes. Also, if you get the chance, listen to this book as an audiobook – the narrators are fantastic and really helped to immerse me in the story quickly. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you go check out Beth O’Leary’s other book, The Flatshare. 5/5