Published: April 16th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Fiction, Romance
I’m delighted to share my review for the The Switch, the spectacular new novel by Beth O’Leary, as part of the social media blast. Thank you to Quercus for the invitation to take part and my ARC of the novel.
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?
Reading this book was like reading Spring; when the world starts to bloom and become brighter after the bleakness of Winter. It makes you feel like there’s hope and light in the world. Something that is desperately needed in these crazy and uncertain times. Witty, uplifting, warm, tender, joyous and utterly consuming, I flew through it in under a day, staying up into the wee hours, unable to stop reading until I got to the end.
The Switch was one of my most eagerly-anticipated books of 2020, so when I received an ARC from Quercus I was giddy with excitement. It has sat in my pile of ARCs taunting me and calling my name ever since, so I was bursting with excitement when I finally got the chance to pick it up. Thankfully, it more than lived up to the hype.
It is a story about self-discovery, adventure, family and the search for love. The Cotton family are still trying to heal from a tragedy that has torn them apart and the life swap proves the perfect opportunity to heal old wounds and face their aching loss. The author expertly and sensitively tapped into the intricacies of grief, loss, family and relationships, not shying away from the raw and angry aspects that are part of the process.
I fell in love with Beth O’Leary’s marvellous storytelling when I read her debut novel, The Flatshare, last year. With The Switch she has solidified her place as one of my favourite authors. Her writing is exquisite, smooth and affecting, the honeyed words making the world around you vanish so all that exists is the world she’s created.
Leena and Eillen are fantastic characters. I loved them both but I was smitten with Eileen from the moment she appeared in the book. Feisty, fearless, kind and hilarious, she’s a force to be reckoned with and is now one of my favourite female characters of all time. I loved her sweet and close relationship with Leena, which reminded me of the relationship I have with my Nan, how she made everyone better versions of themselves and is always thinking of others. As well as fantastic narrators, the author created a rich, varied cast of characters that radiated from the page, bringing the communities she created to life and immersing me in their world.
The Switch is an absolute gem. A delightful, lingering and enthralling read, I can’t recommend it highly enough. When I turned the final page, there was a sadness that it was over and I wished I could go back and experience it for the first time all over again. Eileen is such a loveable and delightful character that I challenge anyone not to adore her and get ‘Eileened’. I know I did. It is the perfect book to brighten your day during these strange times and will be one of my top books this year for sure. BUY IT NOW.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being in reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey from work.
She is now writing novels full time, and 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).
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