The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I’ve been following a lot of book blogs, making acquaintances and seeing what everyone else was reading. It was because of a post on Stephanie’s Book Reviews that I picked up The Switch by Beth O’Leary.

From the publisher: “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.”

I had the privilege of listening to The Switch, which was narrated by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Alison Steadman. I could not have picked better narrators for Eileen and Leena’s story. Sometimes, when I’m listening to a British accent, I get lost in the accent and forget to focus on the story. The women both have such soothing, easy-to-listen-to voices that the time flew by while I was listening and I listened captively.

The Switch is an utterly charming book. Switching back-and-forth between Eileen and Leena’s point-of-view. Sometimes that interrupts the flow of a book, but it did not in this case. While I enjoyed Eileen’s point-of-view more, it was the characters in Leena’s Yorkshire world, her grandmother’s world, that made the book for me. How Leena handled all these “country folk” when she is a city lady makes for some great comedy. How Eileen, the “country lady,” handles London makes for some real heart-warming scenes. How each of the women interact with each other’s friends makes for great listening.

There’s a subplot that isn’t mentioned in the synopsis: Leena’s sister, Carla, died of cancer about 14 months prior to the swap, and Leena is still not dealing with it. It was probably one of the reasons for her breakdown at work. Her relationship with her mother is non-existent because of an argument over Carla’s care. Throughout the course of the book, we get to “see” Eileen and Leena work Leena’s mom back into her life, and let the healing begin.

There’s another subplot involving Eileen and Todd, a man whom she meets through a dating app and has a casual sexual relationship with during her stay in London. I’m not a big fan of casual sex for any reason, so this was one of the only downsides of the book for me.

The Switch is highly recommended for those who love contemporary fiction, British fiction, coming-of-age stories, and really, anyone who wants to read a well-crafted book. Five stars.

I received the audio book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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