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Book DetailsISBN: 9781787475007
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Book Review: The Switch by Beth O'Leary - Reviewed by CloggieA (24 Jul 2020)
4.5?s The Switch is the second novel by British author, Beth O’Leary. The audio version is narrated by Alison Steadman and Daisy Edgar-Jones. A work situation sees workaholic Leena Cotton forced to take an eight-week sabbatical from her high-pressure London job. A visit to her beloved seventy-nine-year-old grandmother, Eileen, recently single, prompts a radical plan: they will do a switch.
Eileen has been listing the pros and cons of the age-appropriate available males in the area, and when Leena sees how poor the choices are in her Yorkshire village of Hamleigh-in-Harksdale, she suggests that Eileen takes her place in the former London printworks flat to enjoy artisanal warehouse living and avail herself of a much wider market of suitable singles.
Meanwhile, as well as looking after Clearwater Cottage, Leena will cover Eileen’s projects in the village: dog-walking for Jackson Greenwood, dealing with nosy, grumpy neighbours, helping with weekly bingo, organising the May Day Festival, attending their (unofficial) Neighbourhood Watch meetings, and checking on her mother (Eileen’s daughter) Marianne.
That last may be a bit of a challenge: Marianne is steadily working her way through a myriad of grief coping strategies following the death of Leena’s younger sister, Carla through cancer. Leena and Marianne haven’t been on the best of terms since that awful loss, Leena finding it hard to forgive her mother’s acquiescence to Carla’s stopping treatment.
Determined to enforce Leena’s break from work, Eileen insists they also swap phones: Leena is left with Eileen’s extremely basic text/call phone with just a few important contacts loaded. While Leena puts her formidable organisational skills to good use in the Yorkshire Dales, Eileen discovers London.
The story is funny and sweet, dealing with work/life balance, friendship and loyalty, grief, loneliness and the sense of community that can be achieved by those who care, whether in a city or a village. There’s some romance, but it’s almost an after-thought; family and community are the central theme.
Eileen is utterly delightful and undeniably the star of the show. She benignly meddles in the lives of Leena’s flatmates, friends and neighbours; she plunges into online dating with great gusto; and she is soon remedying the loneliness of local seniors with her Silver Shoreditch Social Club. Alison Steadman’s narration is absolutely brilliant. A very enjoyable read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Macmillan Audio.
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