Book Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Goodreads: The Switch
Publisher: Quercus
Published: 16 April 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Maybe it’s time for The Switch…

Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?

It took me a while to get around to it but I’m so glad that I finally picked up The Switch. I buddy read this with Leslie @ Books Are The New Black and it was so much fun! It made me wonder why I didn’t do buddy reads more when it’s so great to have someone to gush and whine to while reading 😂 We both tried to pace ourselves but we ended up devouring this book because it was so easy and mostly enjoyable to read! Don’t forget to check out Leslie’s review! This has, without a doubt, cemented O’Leary in my auto-buy and favourite authors list because she definitely knows how to write those feel-good heartwarming stories that leave you wanting more. 🥰

The story is told in alternating perspectives between Leena, the granddaughter, and Eileen, the grandmother and it’s split between Yorkshire and London. Although we don’t get the perspective of Marian, Leena’s mother and Eileen’s daughter, she has an important role in both their stories. All three women are dealing with the grief of a massive loss in their lives and they’ve turned to very different coping mechanisms to help them process. I feel like calling this a romance does the book a disservice because although it is about finding love, it’s more about finding yourself, coming to terms with loss and processing grief. The romance played a really small role in the overall story and I think suffered a bit because of that.

“When people talk about loss, they always say you’ll never be the same, that it will change you, leave a hole in your life. [ . . . ] But when you lose somebody you love, you don’t lose everything they gave you. They leave something with you.”

Leena was a complex character. She’s full of anger and has turned all her energy towards work so that she doesn’t have to process her grief. She harbours particularly resentful feelings towards her mother that come across as more selfish than anything else and honestly, it was really hard to feel sympathetic towards her when she made such childish and stupid decisions that angered me (especially towards the end). 😂 That said, I also feel like her storyline in Yorkshire lacked development. We’re “told” about Leena’s growth and connection to the community but we don’t see much of it happen. I also felt it was a pity that we don’t get more scenes with Leena and Marian talking through their loss/grief because it’s obviously such a big roadblock for Leena particularly. Our “hero” in the story is Jackson, who seemed like a sweet and thoughtful character though not much of one for words; however, we also don’t get a lot of scenes with him and so it was hard to feel their romantic connection.

“You were healing. You’re still healing. You’ll maybe always be healing. And that’s OK. It’ll just be part of what makes you you.”

The last thing I expected when reading The Switch was to fall absolutely in love with Grandma Eileen but I did. She was undoubtedly THE BEST thing about this book, and if this story was solely about her journey I would’ve given this 5-stars and more if I could. She’s such a wonderful and lively character and filled the pages up with so much hope, happiness and life. I loved her take-charge attitude and her scheming matchmaking had me laughing in delight! I also really loved the connections that she formed with Leena’s friends Fitz and Bee, as well as all the residents in Leena’s building. She had such a wonderful journey of finding love and that spark for life again and it wasn’t difficult to root for her happiness. Also, the cheeky banter between the oldies was so *squee!*–I absolutely LOVED IT! I would hang out with Eileen all day any day and I honestly don’t have much more to say about how much I loved her bits of the story. 😍

Have you read The Switch or is it on your TBR?

16 thoughts on “Book Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

  1. Great review, Dini! I really like the sound of this one, but I think I’ve seen enough reviews for it to want to borrow it from the library rather than buy my own copy. I love that you had such a good time with Eileen–I feel like we need more novels about people in their 80s having adventures. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Checking out of the library would definitely be a good idea cos you can always buy it if you end up loving it! I hope you enjoy it, Jess 😃 And YAS, more books with older characters having adventures PLEASE! Eileen was so great 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read the Flatshare last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so this one has been on my list ever since. While it still sounds like a great fun read, I think perhaps one that I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high? Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would go in with lowered expectations maybe? Characters have such a big impact on how I feel about a book and Leena was just not always my cuppa… That said, it was still a really sweet and heartwarming story! I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try 😊


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