Author: Beth O’Leary
Overview from Goodreads:
A grandmother and granddaughter swap lives in The Switch, a charming, romantic novel by Beth O’Leary.
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 long-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.
So they decide to try a two-month swap.
Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.
But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything….or to find yourself.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary, narrated by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Alison Steadman, is my first audio book via NetGalley. I’ve done previous audiobooks, such as the Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, etc (usually books that I’m more familiar with the events).
I’ve heard the Flatshare was an amazing novel with great reviews because the author is brilliant, I jumped at the chance to experience The Switch. Although it would have been nicer to read the debut novel that I heard about first, the opportunity to check out The Switch presented itself first. After loving this novel, I now will have to immediately get my hands on a copy of the Flatshare if it’s written even half as well.
Eileen Cotton is our 79 (going on 80) year old whose husband has left her for a younger dance instructor. She is on the look-out or love, but fears her options in the smaller village in Yorkshire of finding love are running out. Living in a smaller town can also have its disadvantages as everyone knows everything about each other. Her granddaughter Leena is 29 with a boyfriend that she believes is a great match. Her best friend, Bea, is part of her support system that also includes her roommates, Fitz and the pregnant Martha. She is constantly busy trying to establish herself in a career and ends up having a panic attack during an important presentation. As she’s conversing with Eileen, both end up airing their issues which leads to Leena suggesting that they switch locations for two months as Leena is now on sabbatical from her job and Eileen has dreamed of a life in London in her youth.
The novel changes points of view in each chapter so some after told via Eileen’s POV and the others are told through Leena’s. As I did an audiobook version, Daisy Edgar-Jones read Leena’s chapters and Alison Steadman read Eileen’s. Usually, I’m nervous to try audiobooks because a bad narrator can ruin the experience to the point where you dislike the book (even if it’s not the novel’s fault – just guilty by association). However, that was not the case with this novel as I loved both of these narrators. They gave just enough emotion for their respective characters without “over-acting.” Both were pleasant and easy to understand which worked well when I had the book playing in the background while working.
I absolutely adore the story of having the grandmother (Eileen) switch houses with her granddaughter (Leena). Eileen is off to live for a few months in the large city (London) while Leena will live in a smaller community up north. (This is a similar idea to the Holiday where two people want a change so they switch locations to see if they can get out of some kind of slump – only with family instead of strangers). Although the general concept is not new, it is the characters and writing that make this story original and captivating.
Eileen starts online dating and starts a senior social program in Leena’s area. She bonds with the roommates and Bea and it’s heartwarming to have multiple generations all come together as they learn from each other. Leena is able to use her skills to help complete the chore list left by Eileen and take charge of the town’s May Day celebration festival. Each woman learns something more about themselves and they are able to discover things that they might have forgotten they had before or didn’t know they had in the first place. I love their interactions with Jackson and Arnold are the stars of the countryside with Jackson being charismatic and handsome – a perfect love interest and Arnold was one of my favorite fun characters.
The two story-lines move together to create one complete novel. It’s well-written and was very pleasant overall. The entire novel is filled with witty and charming characters. The events and feelings are all relatable and believable. This novel explores grief, estranged relationships, romance, finding happiness, and most importantly family. (It really did have all the elements of the perfect slice of life novel that will give you all the feels.) This was my first novel by Beth O’Leary, but it certainly won’t be my last!
**Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**