The Switch by Beth O’Leary – Review!

This is a book I recently read and I wanted to do a little review about it, there will be spoilers so if this is on your TBR List, stop reading!

We meet Leena, a young businesswoman working for a firm in London and her grandmother Eileen, who lives in Hamleigh in Harksdale. It is a made up village but the author has said it was inspired by a village she visited in the south of the Yorkshire Dales. After a quick Google search this is the sort of village I am picturing!

Within the first few chapters we come to realise Leena’s sister Carla has passed away and left a massive void in everyones lives. Leena has a very strained relationship with her mother and Grandma Eileen’s husband, Wade has recently left her for a dance instructor. Eileen refuses to mope around and decides to seek love and passion, sadly there isn’t many compatible bachelors in her village! After a big presentation at work goes terribly for Leena she is given a 2 month sabbatical from work and escapes to Yorkshire to see her grandma. The two decide a change of scenery would be a fabulous idea and so Grandma Eileen goes on a big adventure to London, looking for love while Leena stays in Yorkshire engrossing herself into village life & meeting a rather distractingly handsome schoolteacher.

Leena meets the Neighbourhood Watch Committee and becomes involved in their activities and May Day celebration planning. We are introduced to a funny bunch of elderly ladies and gents who show amazing strength and support in really tough situations. Leena learns to how live life in the slow lane and befriends her elderly next door neighbour with whom she meets up for a daily coffee catch up.

Meanwhile, Eileen meets Leena’s friend Bee who helps her compile a dating profile and before long, messages are flooding in from all types of interested chaps! Eileen cannot resist meddling in other people’s lives and soon becomes friends with all her neighbours including isolated Letitia (who turns out to be a total gem with a fabulous vintage home!) It’s not long till Eileen is inspired to create a Silver Shoreditch Social Club, a social space for people within her age group who can meet for coffee, to read or just to have a chat with like minded individuals. A little sanctuary in the busy capital, somewhere to feel less alone. Back in Hamleigh, Leena is trying to navigate her feelings towards her mother, who is Eileen’s daughter. The loss of her sister has created rage within her, blaming her mother for the death of her sister, thus creating a rift between the two. Like her grandmother, Leena cannot stop herself in meddling in the lives of the villagers and is soon caught up in challenges faced by the residents of Hamleigh village.

This book is about healing from loss. It is about love between friends and between family. It shows us two very different communities coming together through the help of both characters. In a place like London, we are used to dodging people and having the bare minimum conversation with strangers, especially with our neighbours. Eileen has no filter, she is courageous and witty and encouraging and she decides to befriend everyone in her apartment complex. She is an extremely likeable character and you find yourself wanting to meet her! Traditionally, grandmothers are portrayed as more strict & uptight, whereas in this book it is Leena who has these qualities. It was very interesting to see Leena’s behaviour change throughout the book. In the early stages of her stay in Hamleigh, her mentality was very much “get stuff done and go home” whereas towards the end it felt like she wasn’t ready to leave. Hamleigh helped her heal in more ways than one.

What I loved about this book is how easy it was to relate to the characters. I very much enjoyed seeing the narrative from two different perspectives. Usually if books are written in a dual narrative, we have main characters within a similar age group, so it was lovely to see the contrast between the two ladies. They had a lot of things in common but very different ways to go about things and it was nice see Eileen live a life she dreamt of having when she was younger.

This book makes you realise the significance of family but also the significance of taking a break to self-reflect and to pause, to remember to put yourself first, allowing yourself to heal and grow.

The Switch had me giggling & it had had me tearing up a few times. It was such a heart-warming read; it was simply impossible to put down. I would definitely recommend this for a cosy night in with a cup of tea and a scented candle burning in the background.

Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts?

Kamila 🙂