Well, it’s safe to say that this review has been sitting in my drafts for rather a while, I actually read this back in the first half of 2021 and then I just stopped blogging. This review was already written and I’m getting ready to finally read The Road Trip, so it seemed right to finally get around to sharing this one! I’ve not really changed anything, other than a couple of additional comments so if anything seems a little out of place, particularly any mentions of lockdowns that’s why!
Author: Beth O’Leary
Publication Date: 16th April 2020
About The Book…
Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Maybe it’s time for The Switch…
Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.
But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back 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?
Leena is having a bit of a tough time at work; she’s not taken the time off to really grieve following her sister’s death and is dangerously close to complete burnout. So, when she blows a major presentation and is given two months paid leave from her job, she’s convinced to switch places with her grandma up in Yorkshire.
I really loved the premise of this book. I think the past 12 months in particular dealing with Covid and lockdowns alone have really given me an appreciation for the idea of just swapping places with someone, anyone, for a bit of an escape. Although I’m not really sure there’s anywhere I could move to currently for a complete escape from Covid.
The Switch is told from multiple points of view, in this case Leena and her grandma Eileen. If you’ve been a regular reader of SWB in the past, you’ll probably be aware this is a storytelling technique that I really enjoy when it’s done well. In this case it was no exception.
I think the one downside to this technique, where I’m concerned at least, is that for it to work you really need to like the characters. It is so character driven, and you spend so much time directly with them, if you were indifferent to the characters, or just didn’t like them I don’t think it’s really possible to enjoy the story. I think this is especially true of The Switch. While there is a plot and things do happen, it is such a character driven story I don’t think you’d be able to enjoy the book at all if you didn’t like one, or both of the central characters.
Fortunately for me, and my enjoyment of this book I really loved both! Leena is a young woman who has a lot of determination to succeed and a good heart but is broken by the death of her sister that she hasn’t taken the time to overcome. Seeing her swap places with her grandma and move up to Yorkshire was really enjoyable and despite some of her struggles it was a delight to see her grow. To follow her as she managed to become friends with all of the inhabitants of the village and slowly bring them round to her way of thinking and things to achieve.
What can I say about Eileen senior? I have a fair few decades ago until I reach her age, I am definitely much much closer to Leena’s age, but I thought it was an absolute delight to see someone of that generation portrayed in the book. I thought she was hilarious I loved her determination and zest for life and getting things done. I think she gives people, at least she gave me, a lot of hope that 40 or 50 years from now don’t have to be an old woman who sips tea and barely leaves the house I can still go out and live life to the fullest. (Additional footnote I am not really sure who I’m kidding I think the past two years I’ve barely left the house and I’ve drunk a lot of tea!)
On to some of the supporting characters let us start off with Ethan, I really didn’t like Ethan if I had one slight criticism of Beth’s books so far, it’s that the boyfriend is so easy to dislike, and I don’t think that’s always necessary. I understand that it adds a little to the jeopardy, but Leena had so much going on with getting over her sister I don’t know that that needed to be in the book as well.
I love the little group of people Leena inherits when she moves up to the village, whether that’s the gruff Arnold or the other members of the Neighbourhood Watch group. Jackson is of course pretty easy to like but there has to be a special mention for Hank! Honestly if you want me to enjoy a book just add in a slightly mischievous Labrador and I’m sold! I loved following Eileen’s time in London as she met all of Leena’s London friends. I think everyone needs a Bee, and I loved the relationship that developed between Eileen, Martha, and Fitz!
I was looking for something uplifting to read during a bit of a down patch and remembering how much I enjoyed The Flatshare I thought The Switch was likely to be an excellent go to. I won’t lie start the book was not the uplifting joyful story I was hoping to read but by the end I had grown to adore both Eileens and it certainly left me smiling. That’s two out of two for Beth O’Leary and now a year on from writing the majority of this and finally coming out of my reading slump I really need to get to The Road Trip before The No Show arrives on my doormat.
About The Author…
Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages.
She wrote her debut novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher.
She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.
Connect With Beth
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As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?