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The Switch Paperback – August 18, 2020
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A grandmother and granddaughter swap lives in The Switch, a charming, romantic novel by Beth O’Leary, who has been hailed as “the new Jojo Moyes” (Cosmopolitan UK)...
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.
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“The Switch brilliantly encompasses all the humor and whimsy of The Flatshare while delving into emotional topics like grief and the importance of watching out for neighbors. Charismatic Eileen stands out as the star of this witty, joyful show, illustrating that mature women need love, too.”
―Booklist, starred review
"[A] cozy, hopeful escape that will make readers laugh, cry, or feel inspired." ―Kirkus, starred review
“The Switch was refreshing, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable. This story has everything you could ask for: witty characters, strong female relationships and a view about love that’d make anyone hopeful.” ―Helena Hunting, New York Times bestselling author
“In this time of increased isolation, The Switch offers a hopeful reminder to reach out to our neighbors with an open mind. It’s a cozy, lovely story about how community matters more than ever.”
―BookPage, starred review
“I am SO LOVING The Switch! It's so sweet and uplifting and SUCH a balm in these wretched times.” ―Marian Keyes, internationally bestselling author
“Reading this felt like checking in on old friends. A bright, life-affirming story with beautifully rich characters.” –Abby Jimenez, bestselling author of The Friend Zone
“I loved it! It was a total joy to read. I loved the concept, the relationship between Eileen and Leena and the wonderful cast of friends both in London and Yorkshire. And it was such a breath of fresh air to read about a 79-year old woman dating (and even – hurrah! – having sex!) The exact kind of thing I believe we need to see more of in books and films. Eileen gives me great hope for the future! I shall be recommending it to my friends.”
―Libby Page, author of The Lido
Praise for Beth O’Leary:
“The new Jojo Moyes.” ―Cosmopolitan (UK)
“Perfect for fans of Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient and Sally Thorne's The Hating Game.” ―Booklist
“Add this to your summer reading list...Everyone needs to devour immediately." ―USA Today
“Set to become the romcom of the year…a Sleepless In Seattle for the 21st century.” ―Sunday Express Magazine (UK)
“The novel equivalent of a cup of hot tea.” ―Refinery29
About the Author
- Publisher : Flatiron Books (August 18, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250769868
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250769862
- Item Weight : 0.023 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 1.15 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #34,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2020
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Top reviews from the United States
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There is something about the way this author writes characters. Last year, The Flat Share was such a delightful surprise that I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I was so excited when I was given the audiobook through NetGalley.
Although this book does have romantic elements in it, it is not a romance. It is a book about how loss reshapes a family and all the people in it. When a close family member is no longer physically present, the family has to learn how to reshape around it. Sometimes finding who you are without that person can be very difficult. It may create a space that can never be filled.
This book focuses on a family of women who have been dealt several blows. First, they lost a granddaughter, daughter, and sister and then the grandfather ran off with a dance instructor. Leena has lost her sister to cancer and has been slowly self imploding ever since. She is over working and has a panic attack in the most important presentation of her life. Her employer forces her to take a sabbatical to sort herself out. Her grandmother Eileen not only lost her granddaughter but also her husband and is finding her small hamlet not very conducive to finding love again. After a weekend together, they decide to switch lives for a time and see if they can each find what they need,
I loved that this book looks at this 79 year old woman as a vibrant, sexy woman. Here is no pandering to her age. She is a full, beautifully written character who still desires and loves and makes mistakes. I loved her point of view so much.
I loved that Leena has to learn to work differently in the small hamlet and also has to learn to forgive her mother. IT is really hard to be angry at a person who has died. It is much easier to blame someone you can still touch. Her journey is not an easy one but it was very well written.
This book touched me in a way that is difficult to define. My family lost my uncle when I was about 3 years old and it reshaped itself around a wound that never healed. My mother, her sister and my grandparents did not talk about him much and they certainly did not talk about his death. It was just something that was always there. I often wonder who they all were before he died. I understand how that change how an entire family works.
This book is beautifully written and the two main characters are fully developed women whose hopes and dreams have been knocked off track. They are not cardboard cut outs. I just really enjoy the way this author writes characters with such nuance and humanness.
We have two very different (maybe not) women, a grandmother, Eileen and her granddaughter, Leena needing a change.
Leena's sister, Carla passed away from cancer a few months back. This has left Leena feeling a terrible loss, her grief is consuming her and she is struggling at work. After having a panic attack during one of her presentations to a big client, her boss tells her to take two months off to relax.
Leena decides to visit the town her grandmother and mother lived in. This is also where Carla spent the last few months of her life. It's hard for Leena to visit her mother's home especially since Leena has not dealt with her grief and she's estranged from her mother.
Eileen is an active 79-year-old woman. She lives in Yorkshire. She is part of the community and helps everyone she can. Her husband walked out on her a few years back and she would like to find some male company. She is thinking of starting dating but she knows the pool of men in her age group is scarce in her town.
Then, Leena has a bright idea. Why don't they swap lives? Eileen should go to London, stay with her roommates and start dating while Leena stays in Yorkshire to help with all the activities her grandmother participates in and also to check on her mother.
Easy peasy, right?
The audio was fantastic. A job well done by both Daisy Edgar-Jones and Alison Steadman as the narrators.
Now in regards to the novel, I can honestly say that I adored these characters. Eileen was superb. Her parts were probably my favorite ones. She was classy, funny, interesting, helpful, a good friend and a great grandmother.
Leena was fun too. In the beginning, she was a mess but once she starts finding out more about herself, the stronger she became. I also love her romance with Jackson and her friendship with Arnold.
Kudos to Beth O'Leary for creating a cute story with memorable characters!
Eileen is who made me fall in love with the book and I loved every single chapter told from her point of view. Maybe because I haven’t read that many senior characters, she struck me as refreshing and intriguing, not to mention hilariously funny.
Whereas Leena’s storyline and love story felt every bit predictable and a trope, Eileen’s was exciting and fun.
Nonetheless you’ll see each development coming and the ending is nothing but very predictable but the book is nicely written and the story is nicely told, too, so you’ll go through the pages in a comfortable, cosy mood, like you either know the characters or like you wouldn’t mind being friends with them.
I don’t think joyful and uplifting fully describe the whole of this book. There are tricky parts that’ll tug at your heart strings and others that will downright smash it to pieces.
But it’s an overall feel good book, that deals with loss of a loved one in a sensible manner and which will leave you with hope and joy in your heart.
Top reviews from other countries
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 tumultuous 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.
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. There’s also some same sex relationships and mentions about about diverse families. The secondary characters get good coverage - especially Eileen and Leena’s friends.
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.
There were some themes around grief too - which moved me as I read this on the eve of the anniversary of the death of my best friend.
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.
On the face of it, The Switch is a charming tale about 79 year-old Eileen Cotton and her granddaughter Leena, who swap lives for a couple of months to get themselves out of their respective funks. Grandma goes of to the bright lights of London to try her hand at internet dating, while Leena takes over Eileen’s multiple ‘projects’ in her northern, country village.
The story is predictable, warm and funny, full of endearing characters, and an absolute joy to read. But — and this is what makes it special — it’s not all puff and fluff. As she did in The Flatshare, O’Leary weaves in some beautiful layers that add an unexpectedly rich texture to an already wonderful narrative.
Scratch the surface and beneath the fun, flirting, and frivolity, you’ll find subtle, darker shades — of loss, grief and loneliness and of mental health. None of these are overplayed, but they do draw out your sympathies enough to make you pause and reflect.
The storyline plays out to script. By half-way through, you know pretty much how it’s going to end. But, that’s okay and does nothing to diminish the enjoyment of the ride. It’s the getting there that counts.
I confess, I wasn’t a huge fan of Eileen’s sexual shenanigans. At 79? I mean, come on! Love and companionship, yes. Cosy cuddles, absolutely! But, hot lust? No, no, no, no, no! That said, I do love how O’Leary gives her older characters bold personalities and would like to think of myself as an Eileen in the making.
Thanks for reading my review. I hope you found it helpful. You can find more candid book reviews on my Amazon profile page.
The story follows Leena Cotton and her Grandmother Eileen who decide to switch lives for two months - Leena will live in her grandmothers cottage in an idyllic little village in Yorkshire and Eileen will travel to the big city to spend the 2 months living in Lena's London apartment with her flatmates. I enjoyed the duel storyline with Leena getting to know her grandmothers motley crew of elderly friends and Eileen getting to grips with city life. However i did feel that the author missed an opportunity especially with Eileens character to not explore London more - I would have loved to have experienced a tour of Buckingham Palace with Eileen or a trip to the West End for example. Similarly with Leenas village life - the author was desperate to convey a quaint cosyness but for me it missed the mark - the regular mention of hot chocolate is not a magic wand for quaintness... I couldn't picture the village in my minds eye at all (was there a pub or not? when Leenas boyfriend visited we were led to believe they would have to go to the next village to a pub but later in the book it is mentioned that the next door neighbour frequented a local pub).
I am not saying don't read this book, I am saying that it is an ok read but be aware that it does have its flaws despite all of the recommendations. If you are looking for a truly comforting and cosy read I would recommend Jenny Colgans Rosie Hopkins book series over this.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review, I hope you found it helpful.
As well as reading the book on kindle I was also listening to the book on audible and I think that helped me to better understand the characters in a way.
Would definitely recommend this as a top read. First book I have read by Beth O’Leary - cannot wait to read her debut novel Flatshare and also The Road Trip when it comes out next year.
Only negative (and isnt really a negative) is the last 2 or 3 chapters of both Eileen and Leenas journey felt rushed and alot was jammed into a small amount of time so it felt rushed and not as detailed however as previously stated, it isnt really a proper negative. I loved the story all the same