The Switch

- Beth O'Leary


Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

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 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.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?



‘I think we should swap,’ I tell Bee, bobbing up into a half-squat so I can talk to her over my computer screen. ‘I’m bricking it. You should do the start and I’ll do the end and that way by the time it gets to me I’ll be less, you know …’ I wave my hands to convey my mental state.
‘You’ll be less jazz hands?’ Bee says, tilting her head to the side.


solid, good read:
Though The Switch is billed as a romance, it’s the other aspects of the narrative that truly shine.

I could not believe how many times I suddenly felt like I was about to start crying. The emotions in this story are always simmering right below the surface, ready to bubble up with very little notice. O’Leary is excellent at making you feel what her characters are feeling, and I felt drawn into their lives immediately. There’s a surprising amount of depth for what is essentially a chick flick trope.

Honestly, the romance was an afterthought. It was pretty clear from the beginning that Ethan wasn’t a great boyfriend, and even though I did really like Jackson, there isn’t enough to justify Leena quite literally falling into his arms in the end. Eileen’s romance had a little more build-up and pay-off and was much more of a focus of her story, but it still wasn’t the most enjoyable part.

O’Leary’s writing is witty and charming, perfectly placing you in London and rural Yorkshire with ease. She captures the small-town vibe as Leena struggles to step into Eileen’s life and figure out her own. And while Eileen’s online dating is surprisingly successful, her meddling nature makes it impossible for her not to get involved in everyone’s business, which can be difficult in a big city where everyone is living their own lives. Unfortunately, with the split narrative, The Switch was a little too short for either side to feel fully developed, but it was still a very enjoyable read.


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