Rating 3 Stars
What’s the book about?
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?
I was really excited when I found out I was receiving an arc of The Switch and had such high expectations since I absolutely loved The Flatshare but unfortunately, this one wasn’t quite for me. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, it just wasn’t for me. The Switch tells the story of Leena, overworked and on a 2 month “vacation”, switching homes and lives with Eileen, her grandmother whose husband has recently left her and now she’s on the hunt for her next adventure.
Just like Eileen’s sleepy little town, I found the beginning of this book a little slow and sleepy. It took me a while to get into the story and when I finally did, it only really held half of my attention. I read Leena’s parts and enjoyed her character growth throughout the story but I mostly skimmed Eileen’s. Eileen’s journey into online dating and her integration into Leena’s friendship circle just didn’t appeal much to me, unfortunately.
Despite certain aspects in the storyline that didn’t really appeal, I did enjoy O’Leary’s writing style yet again. She writes clearly and concisely so the storyline was very easy to follow along. I also did enjoy Leena’s personal growth. When the story began, I didn’t understand why she was freaking so much about getting a 2 month paid vacation. Working until 2am most nights and having not taken any annual leave in forever, she clearly deserved to take some time off. Then, overwhelmed, overworked and over-stressed, she freaks out mid-presentation with a client and is subsequently brought into HR. After which, she complains that she would’ve rather they tried to fire her than give her paid time-off. When this occurred, I knew I was going to struggle somewhat with understanding this character but O’Leary did turn my opinion around. When Leena takes over Eileen’s duties around the small country town, I definitely started to understand her motivations and way of thinking, and as the story continues so does her personal development and growth.
Overall, I found this story had its moments. While it wasn’t my cup of tea entirely, I did enjoy some aspects of the story and I can definitely see a lot of readers enjoying it. The Switch would greatly appeal to fans of general fiction, small town community living (with senior citizens who like to get in each others’ business), and second chances/starting over.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Quercus Books and Netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review.