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Book Review: The Switch

Plot:

Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
It’s time for The Switch…

After blowing a big presentation at work, Leena takes a two-month sabbatical and 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 . . . A life swap seems the perfect solution.

But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the distractingly handsome local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. 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?

Review:

The Switch, Beth O’Leary’s follow up to The Flatshare, did not disappoint. Again, it’s a story from two perspectives – a granddaughter and a grandmother.

Leena, a 20 something high achiever in London, has struggled with her mental health and at work after the death of her sister, Carla. Leena’s manager directs her to take two months leave. She finds herself at a loose end.

Seventy nine year old Eileen, Leena’s grandmother, is in Leeds, Yorkshire. She’s had a tough few years – her husband left her for another woman, her granddaughter died, and she’s been looking after her daughter who has also struggled since Carla’s death.

Leena and Eileen are close – talking on the phone regularly. Eileen suggests the two of them swap places in life. Eileen went to stay at Leena’s London apartment with her flatmates, and Leena went to Eileen’s cottage in Yorkshire. They even swapped phones, and Eileen borrowed a Leena’s high heels.

They fit in to each other’s lifestyles well – making friends and building communities. They try new things – Eileen tried online dating (and helps Leena’s friend with her dating), and ales a tried her hand at event planning. Oh my, you would not believe the things an older lady can get up to! Let’s just say that age does not stop a woman from being attracted to a man.

Throw in a gaslighting, cheating boyfriend – Ethan; a casual affair – Todd, an actor from the west end; and a new flame – Jackson – and there’s the romance, diverse relationships and so forth.

There are some funny scenes – especially involving Eileen and her well meaning meddling. While Eileen and Leena don’t speak as much during their life swap, they always have each other’s back. I wasn’t close to my grandmother, and I do wish I had the strong bond Eileen and Leena have.

This is a book about intergenerational friendships and unexpected happiness through a change of scenery.

“I couldn’t have figured myself out if I’d not been someone else”, Leena said. A poignant line in a really lovely book. Thanks Beth.

I listened to the audiobook and loved the narrators. It was a quick read, but I didn’t want it to end.

4/5 Stars

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