The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

Stars: *****

Tiffy has recently been heartbroken when her relationship with Justin has ended. It also leaves her with a bit of a problem – she needs to find somewhere to live in London that’s within her budget. Against the protests of her friends, she discovers the perfect solution…a flat share with a twist. She’ll have to share a bed with someone she’s never met!

Leon is a nurse who works nights, leaving an ideal opening for someone who works a daytime job. His girlfriend, Kay, is not entirely happy with the scenario so insists on vetting whoever will be sharing a flat – and more importantly, a bed – with her boyfriend, but decides Tiffy will be entirely suitable.

But as their relationship develops (through writing each other detailed – or not, in Leon’s case – post it notes) they have to tackle things they never knew they would: finding an elderly man’s soul mate, keeping clear of a stalking ex and navigating their friendships and relationships as they view life through a different lens, through the reactions and opinions of their flatmate.

Can they help each other…without ever having met?

I saw this book on the shelf for months, always meaning to buy it and then putting it back. It is only a few books of this genre that I find myself genuinely enjoying. Very few writers – Jill Mansell being my favourite, or any romantic book with a food element tends to tempt me – I feel keep me gripped in a book about romance (probably a side-effect of reading so much crime!)…but Beth O’Leary is one of them.

This was not a typical book of its genre. It deals with some complex subjects – prison, emotional abuse, the rebuilding of confidence – in ways that make them accessible to the reader. It shows another side of relationships; they aren’t always fluffy and full of joy, but can cause real hurt too. I particularly found Tiffy’s discovery of what her relationship was, and the dealing with her own emotions because of it, very raw and honest.

‘The Flatshare’ blended its storylines together well. There was a lot going on, with many layers to the story, yet it never felt too much. O’Leary has expertly woven them together to ensure the reader is kept wondering right up until the moment she wants them to create the inferences. Each character has a purpose (I particularly liked Rachel!) and felt as though they were true reflections of how a friend might act – for both Leon and Tiffy – throughout their ups and downs.

I can only hope her next book, ‘The Switch’, lives up to this amazing debut!

Like the sound of this book? Buy it here:

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