Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary
Publisher: Quercus Books
Publication Date: 16th April 2020
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?
I honestly didn’t think Beth O’Leary could top her last book, The Flatshare, which I just absolutely loved, but somehow she managed it! The Switch is truly wonderful and it was such a joy to read. The premise is great – basically a young woman and her grandma essentially swap lives for a couple of months. This quirky situation comes about for a few reasons, some of which are heartbreaking and some of which are much more humorous and the results make for an fantastically enjoyable read.
What O’Leary manages to do so supremely well is create characters and a world that the reader completely falls in love with. Both the main characters, Leena and Eileen, are equally fun to read about and I kind of fell in love with both of them – by the end of the book I really didn’t want to let them go. I adored that the focus was just as much on the elderly Eileen as on her granddaughter. It demonstrated the vitality and fire that many pensioners definitely possess and I wish there were more books featuring the older population in this way. The relationship between Leena and Eileen is perfectly pitched and felt so real and beautiful. The characters in both London and rural Yorkshire are deliciously quirky, hilarious and I actually found myself charmed by pretty much all of them. There is a great deal of fabulous humour in The Switch but at it’s heart it is actually about loss, grief and family, both the one we are born into and the one we make for ourselves. It is a sensitively written and genuine feeling read that I think no one could fail to be moved by.
The best way I can describe The Switch is to say that whilst reading it, I had a smile on my face pretty much all the way through. It is a book that fills you with warmth and joy which is the perfect book for right now. There is a lot going on in the world at the moment, most of which is pretty scary but I promise you this book will provide a small break from the realities of life and will put a smile on your face. I can’t fault it in any way – thoroughly recommend.
I received this e-arc through Netgalley. My review is my own honest opinion.