Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Maybe it’s time for The Switch…
Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and L Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.
But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?
I made the decision to tackle my ever expanding to be read pile of books a while ago, because despite what many feel, book bloggers do buy books!
I first read a book by Beth O’Leary when I was one of the shadow judging panel of book bloggers on The Women’s Comedy Prize for Fiction this year. I loved The Flatshare and immediately bought The Switch as a result. It is as equally charming, delightful and joyful! Remarkable when it is dealing with such a difficult subject, grief!
Before reading The Flatshare, I admit, I would probably have bi passed this type of book, just because I didn’t perceive it as a book I would enjoy. Which is silly, because I genuinely have quite wide reading tastes! Yet from the first few pages, I knew that I loved it and wanted to read more books by this author and so I did.
The Switch is one of my favourite reads this year, light enough that the subject matter doesn’t feel overwhelming, full of humour and moments of intense emotion. Yet never, not once, do you feel as if the story is going to overwhelm you and the writer manages to open you up to difficult feelings, while holding you safely until the story ends. It is as the Welsh would say, a Cwtch in book form! Beth O’Leary’s writing is remarkable, in that she brings a lightness of touch to emotions and stories, that could in the hands of another writer, leave you an emotional mess, yet she never compromises on story or characterisation.
Here we have Leena a young women in desperate need to a break from her career and life in London, then there is her grandmother Eileen, newly single and looking for adventure after years of repressing her own needs. They are both looking for change and seeking a way to move forward, after their lives are derailed by loss and overwhelmed by waves of grief. The journey we take with them is full of bumps along the way, characters full of warmth and others misunderstood, both in good and bad ways.
The overwhelming feeling you have when reading The Switch is of utter contentment. I loved the drama, especially Leena’s attempts to win over the unruly OAP’s of her former home, which had me in stitches of giggles. Then there was her grandmother’s building of a community in a corner of London, that had me feeling warm and happy. This novel is full of a myriad of moments, that taken together, form a story that charmed me so much, I not only looked forward to curling up with it, I immediately started thinking of people I know would love reading it. So it is on my list for birthday and Christmas present buying, or just to say thank you.
I am looking forward to reading the writers next book, with a smile and a renewed commitment, to try all books, not matter if I think they are my cup of coffee or not!
Or why not order from a local independent bookshop?
About the author
Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages. Her debut, THE FLATSHARE, sold over half a million copies and changed her life completely. Her second novel, THE SWITCH, has been optioned for film by Amblin Partners, Steven Spielberg’s production company. Beth writes her books in the Hampshire countryside with a very badly behaved golden retriever for company. If she’s not at her desk, you’ll usually find her curled up somewhere with a book, a cup of tea and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).