Book Review: The Switch – Beth O’Leary

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

About The Book

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?

My Review

Eileen is 79, is recently separated from her husband who has left her for a dance instructor and has a busy and active social life in Hamleigh-in-Harksdale in the Yorkshire Dales. She is part of a number of committees, has a wide circle of friends and an ongoing feud with her next door neighbour. She likes her life but feels that she still has lots to give and would love to find love. The thing is, it is very slim pickings in the village she lives in.

Her grandaughter, Leena is a high-flying overachiever who lives in London. She has just been keeping things together after suffering a traumatic seismic event but when she suffers a panic attack at work she is sent on a 2 month sabbatical. Retreating back to the Yorkshire Dales to visit her much-loved grandmother she realises that a slower pace of life may be just what she needs for a while.

She and Eileen decide to swap lives, with Leena taking over the committee meetings and Eileen living the life in London she had dreamt of as a young woman. What follows is a book which examines new beginnings and how to be brave.

I really enjoyed this lovely book which is chock full of warmth, humour and wit. The relationship between Eileen and Leena is well drawn and Beth O’ Leary does a wonderful job in creating these outwardly different women and shining a light on the similarities that unite them. They’re both desperately lonely and despite having friends are struggling with life. This really struck a chord, particularly at a time when we’re isolated in our own little bubbles. The Switch deftly and sensitively depicts how important it is to check in on those in your community and to look after one another.

I particularly loved Eileen who is far from being a stereotypical 79 year old and is brilliantly written. She is warm, kind, full of life and shows deep emotional empathy, always intuitively knowing what somebody wants or needs almost before they do. She is a force of nature, fun loving, joy seeking and her exploits in online dating were fabulous to read. Good on you Eileen.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary is another slice of heartwarming fiction perfect for the weird times that we find ourselves in. I loved Beth O’ Leary’s debut novel The Flat Share and was eager to read her newest offering and I wasn’t disappointed. If you’re looking for some escapism that will put a smile on your face then The Switch could be the perfect read for you.

Where You Can Buy It

The Switch by Beth O’Leary was published by Quercus and is available in hardcover and ebook.

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