The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: April 18, 2019
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary is a contemporary romance told in alternating first person and epistolary format. Rowena mentioned this book to me around the time it was released, but I completely forgot about it until I saw The Switch had come out. I requested The Switch from the library, but there was a wait, so I decided to read this one instead.
Tiffany Moore needs a cheap place to live ASAP. Her on-again/off-again boyfriend of several years has suddenly come home with a new woman, and she’s convinced him to put Tiffy out. Her options are a moldy, crumbling flat that should be condemned, or a flatshare – where two people share the same one-bedroom flat at opposite times of the day. She chooses the flatshare.
Leon Twomey is in desperate need of an extra £350 per month to help pay for his brother’s legal fees. Since he works as an overnight palliative care nurse, he figures a flatshare is the easiest way to make the extra he needs. He’ll have access to the flat from 8am-6pm, and his flatmate will have it during the evenings and weekends.
Leon and Tiffy haven’t met, but sharing a bed and a flat, not to mention daily notes, bring them together. Between his wrongfully imprisoned brother and search for a long-lost-love for a patient at work, and her crazy ex-boyfriend and work projects, they have a lot to share. Leon is an introvert who is happiest when things are quiet and he’s alone. Tiffany is an extrovert who is happiest surrounded by chaos. The two shouldn’t have anything in common, but as they come to know one another through their shared flat and notes, they realize they share more than they think.
Tiffy is dealing with the realization that the relationship she’s been in for years is very unhealthy. With the help of her friends, a therapist and Leon, she’s beginning to deal with repressed trauma over the emotional abuse she suffered while with her controlling ex. I thought that aspect of the novel was well done. We don’t always see what’s happening in the moment, and it takes some space for us to realize how bad a situation has gotten. I really liked that Tiffy’s friends were supportive and helped her realize how awful her relationship was, while also giving her space to figure things out on her own.
Leon is struggling to deal with the incarceration of his brother, Richie. He was sent to prison for 7 years for armed robbery, but Leon knows he’s innocent. He’s trying to find out information from Richie’s attorney about their appeal, and also be strong for his mam. To take his mind off his problems, and to keep him busy on the weekends when he isn’t allowed at his flat, he’s begun the search for Jonathan White, the lover one of his patients had back in WWII.
Leon and Tiffany both came alive on page. They felt like real people with real friendships. I loved how they grew and changed, together, yet separate.
I smile. The note is stuck on the fridge, which is already one layer deep in Post-its. My current favorite is a doodle Leon did, depicting the man in Flat 5 sitting on an enormous heap of bananas. (We still don’t know why he keeps so many banana crates in his parking space.)
I rest my forehead against the fridge door for a moment, then run my fingers across the layers of paper scraps and Post-its. There’s so much here. Jokes, secrets, stories, the slow unfolding of two people whose lives have been changing in parallel―or, I don’t know, in sync. Different time, same place.
There was quite a bit of humor, especially when it came to Tiffy’s co-worker, Rachel. I cracked up on more than one occasion because of her jokes and antics.
Tiffany [9:07 a.m.]: It was really weird. I literally told her the most embarrassing stuff about me within like ten minutes of meeting her.
Rachel [9:08 a.m.]: Did you tell her about when you vomited in your hair on the night bus?
Tiffany [9:10 a.m.]: Well, that didn’t actually come up.
Rachel [9:11 a.m.]: How about the time you broke that guy’s penis at university?
Tiffany [9:12 a.m.]: Didn’t come up, either.
Rachel [9:12 a.m.]: That’s what he said.
This was such a cute, uplifting story. I really loved how it was told from both points-of-view, and also through the notes they wrote to each other. I smiled my way through this book, and I can’t wait to read more from O’Leary.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5