After finishing this book, I’ve decided to count this as my summer read on my reading challenge. It has the requisite amount of light feel-good fun that I think of when considering summer reads, and there was even a beach scene to sweeten the pot. It feels weird saying that considering I’m writing this review on a cold and rainy day in which I don’t desire to go outside, but there you have it. The Flatshare is the first novel from UK based author, Beth O’Leary. It was released in 2019, and O’Leary has been very busy, as she’s already released two subsequent novels with one soon to come down the pipeline in the Spring of 2022.
Tiffy Moore has a problem. She’s broken up with her on-again off-again boyfriend, Justin… again. This time she needs a place to stay, because Justin and the woman he left Tiffy for insist that she leave and pay back-rent for the time she overstayed her welcome in Justin’s flat since the breakup. She needs seriously cheap rent, and she needs to find it fast. Leon Twomey, consequently, needs the cash to help pay his brother’s legal fees for an appeal for armed robbery, a crime he didn’t actually commit. They find the perfect fix for both of their problems in the form of the flatshare. Leon will stay in the flat during the day while Tiffy is working, and he will leave before Tiffy gets home in the evening. They will never see each other, something for which Leon’s girlfriend is absolutely insistent, but they will sleep in the same bed. Their friends and colleagues think the plan is positively mental and there’s no way it could not become weird. After Leon and Tiffy begin leaving each other little notes spread across the flat, they find themselves bonding in unexpected ways.
This is a light and refreshing read in most respects, though it does have some incredibly serious themes below the surface. It’s a well balanced book. It’s well written, humorous, and has really solid character development. The characters are quite relatable, and that’s a major strength in the romance genre. It’s told in alternating chapters from the point of view of both Tiffy and Leon. This is a great book to listen to on audio, as the readers are quite exceptional, and that helps to lend each character their own unique voice.
I think it’s wonderful to get both perspectives in a novel like this. Firstly, there’s a fabulous comparison in how these two people see each other versus how they see themselves. Especially for Tiffy, she comes across to others as being so confident and sexy. Her internal monologue, however, tells a different story. She imagines that people see her as too tall, not pretty enough, or just not ENOUGH in every regard. As we grow to know her more intimately, of course, we start to glean some of the reason for these insecurities, and that’s when the novel becomes serious. The aforementioned Justin may have left, but as Tiffy discusses aspects of their relationship with Leon and others, Justin’s behaviors toward her paint a very toxic picture of him as a person. For anyone who has experienced a relationship such as Tiffy’s, spoiled by verbal and emotional abuse, perhaps this novel should be approached with caution.
Aside from that fairly mild amount of ickiness, the rest of this novel is quite charming and lovely. It’s serious in the places where that’s warranted, and humorous enough in a quirky and charming way so as to still make this a light, romantic read that will leave you smiling after you put it down. Overall, this is a very enjoyable book with a delightfully unique premise. 4 stars.
Published April 10, 2019 by Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781250295637. Runtime 9 hrs 58 mins. Read by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune.