Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
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 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.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
Being a huge fan of Beth O’Leary’s first book, THE FLATSHARE, I was so excited to read her next novel, THE SWITCH. So excited in fact, that I ordered the UK edition since it released there in April and isn’t set to release here in the US until August.
This was such a lovely read. It made me laugh and tear up, a sure sign of a good book! I loved both Eileen and Leena right off the bat. They had similarities in personality but were very much their own people. I loved having an older character find a new sense of purpose, adventure, and love. By stepping into her grandmother’s shoes, Leena was also able to gain new perspectives. A heads up that the focus of this one is more on Eileen’s and Leena’s individual journeys as opposed to them finding love. The romantic subplots of each are very light.
That said, I do wish there was a bit more of Leena’s storyline when it came to her love interest, but I also understand it wasn’t the main focus of the book. I just really like romantic storylines so I personally wanted a bit more of Leena and her love interest growing closer during her stay in Hamleigh. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book!
I don’t read a lot of books with older protagonists, so this was a nice change of pace. I did enjoy how it alternated with Leena’s POV as it was interesting to see how their perspectives, opinions, and assumptions changed. They each became more open and understanding of the other’s life and I really liked that. The supporting characters were great too! I probably could read a whole book just about Bee or Fitz (who was a fave of mine).
I love how O’Leary’s stories in the end always make me feel like I’ve been wrapped up in a really nice and warm comforting hug. Overall, a heartwarming and lovely escape with fantastic lovable characters. A great summer read!
MEET THE AUTHOR: Beth O’Leary
Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being within reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.
You’ll usually find her curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).