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REVIEW: The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary was all over bookstagram in 2020. It was so hyped up that I was scared to read it - what if I didn't like it? But then I read it, and I fell in love with Tiffy and Leon's story and their quirky flatshare set up. (*this review may reveal some spoilers*)

The premise of O'Leary's novel is simple: Leon has the flat during the day, while Tiffy is at work, and Tiffy has the flat at night, when Leon is at work. But the problem is that they are total strangers. When you share a bed with someone you've never met, the boundaries between separate lives begin to merge, and things become way more complicated than first expected...

"I know exactly how he likes his eggs fried, though I've never actually seen him eat one (there's always tons of runny yolk left over on the plate). I could describe his dress sense pretty accurately even though I've never seen him in any to the clothes drying on the clothes horse in the living room." (pg. 86)

I was immediately drawn in by the simple concept of the story and was keen to see how it would play out. I knew that it was a romance novel from reading others' reviews, (and I LOVE romance novels), but the novel actually goes a lot deeper, including toxic ex-boyfriends and brothers in prison. On paper it all sounds a little...much for a romance novel, but for me it worked. The bigger issues behind the love story aren't trivialised but actually bring Leon and Tiffy together more and contribute to the reader's desperation for them to get together. It takes their romance beyond an infatuation and into a vulnerable, deep bond.

The novel is, interestingly, narrated by both Tiffy and Leon, as they alternate chapters. Most of my favourite romance books are told in this way; I love getting both perspectives, and the fact that they are alternatively sharing a flat is mirrored in the way that they share their narration. However, the problem with any book with shared narration is trying to decipher how the characters' voices differ, yet O'Leary does this so well, with Leon rarely using the 'I' pronoun (analyse that, psychotherapists) and Tiffy being overall more chatty and open. I really enjoyed the narration and felt it propelled the narrative forward.

When looking back at the book at my favourite quotes (yes, I fold the corners of the page down), I was surprised to see hardly any pages folded. But I think I'm just not used to reading genre fiction, and once I got over its lack of stand-out sentences, I realised the author doesn't get too bogged down on the words or sentences being poetic because she uses her words to contribute to the movement of the plot, in turn emerging the reader in the story, and I don't think you can ask for any more. It's a total feel-good, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy. I could seriously see this being made into a film.

This book had me smiling, crying, and holding my breath, and I'll definitely be diving into Beth O'Leary's other books.

Thanks so much for reading, and I'll see you next time,

Kate x

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