Book review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Thursday, April 25, 2019 Permalink

Oh my goodness oh my goodness. Well usually I’d say something far more blasphemous but I’m trying to start this review in a vaguely professional manner so too many ‘f’ words first-up might be a bad thing.

I broke my ‘no reading during the day’ rule for this book. I’d been doing chores and got sweaty, so decided to pop into the bath for a soak and a very short half-hour read before getting into my afternoon plans.

Three hours later I closed this book.

Book review: The Flatshare by Beth O’LearyThe Flatshare
by Beth O'Leary
Published by Quercus
on April 18th 2019
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: General Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
ISBN: 1787474410, 9781787474420
Pages: 375

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course...

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

I know the term, chick lit, is apparently passé nowadays but that’s how I’d describe this book and I don’t know why that’s a bad thing: chick lit / women’s fiction. Or a bloody good read. Whatever…

I adored Tiffy though think I’d worry about one of my besties Tiffany if she abbreviated her name in that way. Though our Tiffy, or the Tiffy we meet here is kinda sold as a bit of an air-head. Initially. She’s a dreamer with eclectic interests and we’re given a visual of her that would certainly cause some to misjudge her.

She’s a delight and far more down to earth than one would expect. When we meet her she’s been dumped but it takes a while to get the full story on her relationship.

I fell in love with Leon from his first page. I’m lax with my pronouns etc too and the way O’Leary writes him; and the Bridget Jones Diary notation-like thinking style is sooooo me.

He’s impossible not to love and both characters had me smitten. Of course there are other cast members: Tiffy’s friends and colleagues; and Leon’s patients and his brother – all of whom round out an interesting and engaging array of personalities.

The plot itself is kinda fascinating and of course we’re on tenterhooks waiting for our roomies to meet. I adored that their relationship built through notes and O’Leary drags out their-not-meeting far beyond what you’d expect to be feasible. But it works.

I think there may have been some backstory around Leon’s childhood, his relationship with his mother and her partners that I missed. And – because I’m wont to be pedantic – given the extent to which his colleagues paint his frugality with conversation and anti-socialness, I didn’t feel as if we got a full understanding of that.

The plot arc around Tiffy’s former relationship is an interesting one and dips into something a bit darker than I expected to find here. I was worried O’Leary had initially thrown it in for some added texture (feeing it deserved more), but it ultimately becomes an important part of the plot, although a little more on how Tiffy found herself in that relationship would have been great.

What I loved most about this book is O’Leary’s writing. Clever. Witty. Rich but not extravagant. I adored her phrasing and in some ways her writing has been peeled back to deliver us two delightful characters stripped bare. We were firmly installed in their heads and completely drawn into their lives.

This is a very clever book. It offers not only quirky, well-drawn characters but a complex and innovative narrative that could be predictable, but isn’t.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes. 


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