Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth O’Leary
Published: May 2019
Genre(s): Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Summary: Tiffy Moore is in desperate need for a place to stay. Her boyfriend has dumped her and moved on with another woman, so he tells her she can’t stay at his place anymore. Short on money and short on time, she decides to enter into an unusual Flatshare agreement with a man she’s never met. They agree to share his one-bedroom flat, but not at the same time. The man who rents the place, Leon, works night shifts as a hospice nurse, so the flat is Tiffy’s nights and weekends and Leon’s during the day. Although they share a bed, the two have never met, and only know each other through the items and habits they leave evidence of in the apartment and a series of post-it notes left throughout their home. These small little yellow square slips of paper are effective in helping them learn about one another as they go through some of the harder things in their lives.
Why I Recommend: If you are looking for a light, breezy story about love, this is the one for you. Although it is mainly a light rom-com, each of the characters are dealing with some tough life circumstances that gives this book a bit of teeth and grounds it from being too light. The book switches between Tiffy and Leon throughout giving each of them very distinctive voices. As the two begin to get to know one another through post-it notes left in their shared flat, you as the reader gets to know the characters. They are brought from average, every character from any women’s fiction, rom-com novel, to something all their own and full of life. It took me just a couple of the short chapters to change my expectations that this was going to be a forgetful, mindless chick lit novel, to know that these characters and the quirky nature of the story-telling would stick with me a bit longer. The writing takes a moment to get used to, especially Leon’s chapters. He doesn’t always use articles and writes in brief note-taking style. Throughout the whole book, dialogue is denoted with : instead of “” so it took a bit for my mind to get used to the writing style and structure used in these pages.
The arrangement these two find themselves in seems a bit zany and unrealistic. Maybe this is commonplace in some parts of the world? They share the same apartment, including the same bed, but never while the other is in it. I thought of approximately 800 reasons why it’s unreasonable to expect one person to never enter their home during set periods of time. What if you have to stay home sick? What if you have to leave work and go home because you are sick or spilled something down the front of your clothes? You have to let your mind get past this in order to enjoy the book. The post-it notes was such an adorable element and I loved reading them throughout the book. I was curious about why they both signed everything with kisses, “x x,” as I found that to be quite intimate for perfect strangers. Maybe this is a common way to end a message elsewhere, specifically in London where the book takes place?
I came to love the characters of this book, and not just Tiffy and Leon. The side characters are important and cared for by O’Leary. The ending maybe got a touch away from her, but then again, endings are probably the hardest part. Everything seemed to collide at once and then managed to tie everything up in a nice pretty bow. I suppose that is the expectation of a book like this, I just wished it didn’t all happen at once as if in an effort to save time. Again, if you are looking for a fun, light read that won’t feel like complete fluff, this book will most likely hit to spot. Happy reading!