7 February 2021

Book Review: The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they're crazy, but it's the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy's at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven't met yet, they're about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window...

Rating: 5/5

This was the fourth book I have read in 2021, and I am so glad I gave this one a try. I was hooked by the little caption on the front cover, that Tiffy and Leon share a bed, but that they'd never met. Who wouldn't be curious about that? Still, I picked it up and dived in, hoping for something exciting to read, and I wasn't disappointed. 

I will be honest, and say that, at first, I struggled with it. I liked Tiffy's narrative, a typical first person narrative was easy to read and get into. Leon's, which was still first person but less conversational in tone, rather than a more reported style, was a bit of a conundrum to me. I wasn't sure why the author needed them to be so different but after a while, I just became used to it, even if I didn't necessarily enjoy reading Leon's narrative in this way.

The characters were fantastic. I loved Tiffy - she felt larger than life, whether it be with her clothing choices, or the fun, light-hearted notes she left her flatmate. She felt like a woman who was a friend to everyone, and she was joyous to follow. Leon, a pallative care nurse, was a little more reserved, but I liked his quiet determination, even if I did wish he'd grow a bit of a backbone at times. The supporting characters, such as Gerty the barrister, Holly the patient, and even Justin, Tiffy's horrid ex-boyfriend were well rounded, and added to the story.

As well as the main thread of the story, there was a more serious side to the book, and that was developed as read more of the book. I don't want to spoil it, but I felt the author's handling of their relationship, and the impact it had on Tiffy was well done, and by the end, I was horrified by everything. It's awful to think these things really go on, but it was a very good addition to an already captivating story, and will offer hope to women that it is possible to escape and move on with a deserving man.

This was the first story I've read by Beth O'Leary, but I know it will not be the last. The split narrative really worked for showing the reader both sides of the story, and I was rooting for Tiffy and Leon to meet, either on purpose or completely by accident. I loved it, and definitely recommend it.

Out now, and published by Quercus.

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