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Review: The Switch

The Switch book cover

Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Date Published: August 18, 2020
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


Following the death of her sister, Leena Cotton is struggling. The once close relationship with her mother is now strained, she avoids all mention of her sister, and has thrown herself exhaustingly into her work. Following a panic attack and almost losing a major client, Leena’s boss forces her to take a two month sabbatical.

Leena’s 79-year-old grandmother, Eileen, is a very active member in her little Harkdale community, but its eligible bachelors are few and far between. When Leena comes to Harkdale for a weekend getaway, she proposes a trade – Eileen will live in her apartment in London and explore the world of online dating and Leena will takeover Eileen’s responsibilities in the village.

Trading lives does not go as expected and each face great complications as they try to fill the other’s shoes. But swapping roles may just be what they need in order to find themselves again.

Overall Thoughts

What a treat! In a genre that, for me, is typically plagued by an over emphasis on developing the most salacious romance possible for shock value rather than actually developing characters that have depth, emotion, and complexity – The Switch came in like a breath of unexpected fresh air. Those expecting The Flatshare 2.0 (which don’t get me started on the absurd notion that authors must replicate their prior works for audience’s enjoyment) will likely be disappointed. To me, The Switch is so much richer as we have two characters trying to better their lives against the backdrop of very real grief – a conversation most people go to great lengths to avoid. But Beth O’Leary expertly navigates this – inserting the topic of grief within a warm, comforting novel that never predominates the entirety. These characters have such great emotional complexity, navigating real challenges and I was genuinely rooting for them and connecting with the obstacles they faced with familial relationships and anxieties.

79-year-old Eileen is the stand out character for me – with her dynamic personality, unashamed quest for love, no-nonsense attitude and compassionate spirit. Side characters in both Eileen’s charming village and Leena’s London apartment complex provide humorous anecdotes and light relief to the heavier story thread. Overall this is an excellent, full bodied and well rounded contemporary novel that leaps ahead of its familiar, pastel covered brethren on the bookshelves.

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