The Switch by Beth O’Leary – Book Review

Title: The Switch (review copy)

Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Light Fiction, Community, Grief, Family

Blurb from Goodreads

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

Last year (Jan 2019) I had the good fortune of reading Beth O’Leary’s debut novel, The Flatshare, as an eARC from NetGalley and it was a book that really gave me great hope in her abilities as a writer because she managed to find a fresh and unique spin on the romantic dramedy genre of fiction…

And with this new novel The Switch she has once again shown that she is a brilliant storyteller in this area.

I loved this book.

Utterly loved it.

It gave me all the feels I could ever have hoped for and I genuinely squeaked with joy when I closed my kindle on the last page. It’s rare that a writer comes along that knows how to marry memorable characters with a warm, inviting storyline and that also knows how to sprinkle it with the right touch of both bittersweet emotion and romance.

But that’s exactly what I got from The Switch.

I completely lost myself in this book: I giggled like a little schoolgirl, I brushed away delicate tears…. I just loved it! Utter feel-good central!!!!

The premise follows a grandmother, Eileen Cotton and her granddaughter Leena who agree to swap lives for a number of months.

Seventy something year old Eileen needs to jazz up her life and find a new love after splitting from her difficult husband Wade. So she comes to London and moves into her granddaughter Leena’s flat complete with her flatmates Fitz and heavily pregnant Martha. Leena’s best friend Bee also becomes besties with Eileen and together with this cast of characters Eileen gets involved in the world of online dating, but more importantly, she brings the sense of community she had in her Yorkshire village to London and makes it her mission to bring together isolated older Londoners to form a little club of sorts.

This might sound a little like something you’ve read before but honestly it’s the characters that make this book. In Eileen Cotton, O’Leary has created a most lively and charming character. She has this wonderful sparkle and joie de vivre that practically bounces off the page and I was 100% invested in her storyline. Definitely going to feature in my list of favourite fictional characters of 2020 for sure!

So while Eileen is off living in London her granddaughter Leena moves into her home in her small village in the Yorkshire Dales. Leena is on an enforced sabbatical from her job and to help take her mind off this, her grandmother has left a long list of errands and activities that she needs to take part in. Including walking local hottie Jackson’s exuberant dog Hank, getting involved in the neighbourhood watch with the most wonderful array of eccentric pensioners including my fav Basil and Eileen’s best friend Betsy, and helping to organise the annual village May Day celebrations. But my fav interactions on Leena’s side of the story were her getting to know grumpy Arthur next door…gosh I loved that crotchety old timer!!

But the real emotional centre point of the story comes from the absence that Leena feels in her life due to the death of her sister Carla from cancer prior to the novel’s start point.

The grief and anger that stems from this loss is what has driven Leena to burning the candle at both ends at work and has also put an enormous wedge into the relationship she has with her mother Marian (who also lives in this Yorkshire village). This in turn has deeply affected Eileen who hates to see her daughter and granddaughter not getting along.

Once or twice this part of the story bordered on a little too much melodrama but it also served to ground the novel and was the real measure of how far Leena had become a different person since her sister’s illness and death. And it was through this storyline that Leena experienced growth of character and ultimately gave this novel an incredibly satisfying endpoint.

There were a lot of other plot lines running through the novel that made the whole storyline of these two women very entertaining, and kept me turning those pages as quickly as I could! These other plot lines also imbued the book with a real sense of community as so many of the side characters were involved in these more minor storylines.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I really can’t wait to read Beth O’Leary’s next novel. She has 100% just become an auto-buy author for me.

An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Quercus, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Publishing: April 30th 2020

Other Works by Beth O’Leary I’ve Reviewed

My Socials

26 thoughts on “The Switch by Beth O’Leary – Book Review

    1. Ooh good question. I liked The Switch more than The Flatshare but if I’m humming and hawing over what to read first from an author’s back catalogue I like to read their debut! Because it’s fun to then read book 2 etc and see how their writing style develops (or determine if they’re a one trick pony lol!) 😊💖💚💜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And now you’ve made it even harder! But lol you are right, best to start with their first novel. It has been mentioned a few times, so I will put it on my TBR list!


  1. Ultra feel good central! YAAS, that’s TOTALLY what I want to hear!! I’m so glad that you loved this and I can’t wait to read it 😍 I absolutely adored The Flatshare and was already convinced that I’d want to read more of O’Leary and now I’m convinced that I will probably end up loving this too! So excited!! Lovely review as always, Emer 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg Dini I was so delighted with this book. She really didn’t disappoint. It reminded me of Austen with regard to how she created this whole village of characters. Each one of them was so interesting to read and each had a function in the storyline… I just loved it so much!!! More than the Flatshare which I adored :))))))

      Liked by 1 person

        1. She’s become one of mine after this book!!!! I was craving a new female author of light fiction but with a bit more substance than just girl loses city boy and city job on the same day, girl moves to the country and sets up a bakery / coffee shop / wedding dress shop and falls in love with the country vet / hot farmer / only single hot male in the village ……. YOU KNOW YOU HAVE READ THAT BOOK A BILLION TIMES ALREADY RIGHT!!!!
          But O’Leary just feels fresh. Definitely breathing new life into a tired genre


  2. Amazing review!! This sounds like a brilliant read, I want to read the Flatshare eventually as it sounded soo good so I am glad to hear great things about the author, if I do and I like it then I will have to give this a go!! Brilliant review – so in-depth! 💜😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I loved The Flatshare!!! It’s so adorable. And felt really fresh and dynamic which isn’t something that can be said about a lot if romantic dramedy type novels. And with this second book…well I’m just so impressed!!! I wasn’t expecting to like it more than the Flatshare and yet here we are lol!!!! Thanks KB!!! :)))))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol, that’s fantastic! I will definitely have to try and get around to both of them now! Especially since I want to try more romance etc… and these just sound awesome! You’re welcome! 😊😊💜💜

        Liked by 1 person

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