Book club, book review

Book Review: The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

As we’re heading into a third month of Lockdown, it’s clear that social isolation is the new norm, so I’ve been participating in some online book clubs. I joined a few at the beginning of Lockdown, then a couple of weeks ago the group Women, Wine & Wit Online International Book Club caught my attention, as they seemed to be having an inhouse Q&A and it looked quite fun.

So the Women, Wine & Wit Online International Book Club book for May was ‘The Flat Share’ by Beth O’leary

The Blurb:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

“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…”

The concept did really intrigue me as, when I was living in London, I had heard of these ‘Bedshare’ arrangements, but was never sure how they actually worked. Beth O’Leary has obviously put a lot of thought and research into this, as the living arrangements are not only plausible but oddly enough a bit enviable too.

At its heart this is quite obviously a romance, but as they say “Its the not the Destination, It’s the journey” and the fun the whole array of characters have is contagious. Tiffy is a fantastic character, larger than life (quite literally at 6 ft) fun loving and colourful. She’s brought to life in such well formed and adept way. She’s definitely going on my Top Ten literary Best Friends wish list.

Each chapter is told from either Tiffy or Leon’s perspective. O’Leary uses a rather canny tool here of using different writing styles for Tiffy and Leon, so you flow seamlessly from one voice to the next without any confusion as to who’s POV we’re with. Another clever thing O’Leary does here is actually within the styles. Tiffy’s POV is all about the nitty-gritty, what exactly was happening, how she was feeling, what she thinks other people are feeling/thinking. Whereas Leons POV is very short and succinct, frequently dropping the pronouns in a Bridget Jones-esque way. This more than anything helps build up the picture of both main characters. Tiffy IS outgoing, and caring, and talkative. Leon IS quiet, introvert, doesn’t say much. So here O’Leary really embraces the old writing adage of ‘Show don’t tell’, yes she has described Tiffy and Leon to us, but their own words show us so much more.

There is also a varied collection of supporting characters, from psycho ex-boyfriends to eccentric Crochet Gurus. They are all well padded out characters that add more depth to the story; except for Mo, one of Tiffys friends. For some reason he just struck a dull note with me.

One other thing I admire about this book, is that it’s a light hearted romantic story, that actually also incorporates the dark subject of domestic abuse. It covers the severity of this issue superbly without actually bringing down the light-hearted tone of the book. O’Leary has hit a good balance here, and the transitioning from dark subject to light and vice versa is flawless.

So we’re discussing this book on 31st May and as you can see I have a LOT to say about it. They also have Beth O’Leary joining them for a live Q&A (Exciting!) So of course I had to submit a couple of my own questions, which were . .

“What or who was the inspiration behind Tiffy’s dress sense?”
And if it is inspired by a person, can I raid their wardrobe?

“The Flatshare is generally a light hearted, and dare I say ‘fun’ story, but within it you’ve covered the issue of domestic abuse, and you even mention some psychological aspects that most Domestic Noir books do not even cover (particularly the ‘rememberings’). They are well represented without breaking the general upbeat flow of the book. How hard was it to get that balance?”

I’ll keep you posted as to whether my questions are asked and what the responses are.

So to summarise; this is an upbeat, feel good, romantic novel. I absolutely ADORED it!!

(and that’s what this book does to you, makes you use words like “Adore”)

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