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, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, it seems this flatshare is more complicated than expected…
I feel like pretty much every book blog and Instagram page has featured this book in some way this year – and I can definitely see why! I got The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary for my birthday this year and just couldn’t wait to read it. I’d just finished reading some pretty heavy books so was looking for a more fun and lighthearted read and this was definitely it. It actually took me a few weeks to properly get into it, but once I was past the first couple of chapters, I devoured the rest in a day and was so annoyed at myself for not reading it all sooner.
The Flatshare follows the journey of Tiffy and Leon as they share a flat, and a bed, but have never actually met. Tiffy has the flat at night, and Leon, who works night shifts, has the flat during the day. They exchange notes about their day, leaving them dotted around the flat, getting to know each other in the most unconventional, but sweet and pure way. They eventually meet in pretty awkward situation and their lives completely intertwine as they navigate work, family, getting an innocent man out of prison and a quest to find the long-lost wartime lover of one of Leon’s patients – yeah, a lot happens.
As there are so many elements to this book, I just kept turning page after page to find out what happens. O’Leary’s writing really gets you rooting for the characters, so much so that I felt like they were friends and all I wanted was for good things to happen to them. Tiffy and Leon’s relationship was so lovely to read. It had been a long time since I’d read a rom-com book before this, and this just reminded me how much I love them. It was so enjoyable to see their romance progress and watch them getting to know each other. My favourite thing was seeing them both coming out of their shells, Leon talking and sharing more, and Tiffy recognising the trauma from her past and healing. I also loved the sub-plots of Mr Prior and his long-lost lover, as well as the journey to getting Richie out of prison. I felt that the story was everything I wanted a rom-com book to be without being at all cliché.
I found O’Leary a very visual writer, too. I felt that I could picture Tiffy and Leon really well, and their flat! Like any book, everyone pictures the characters and their settings differently, but from O’Leary’s descriptions, I feel like I would love to live in their flat. It felt colourful and homely, and is one of the main things I can remember so vividly from the book now. The settings of the Welsh castle they visit was beautiful too, as was their trip to Brighton.
Whilst the story of Tiffy and Leon is sweet and fun, there is also an exploration of emotional abuse and particularly gaslighting through the character of Tiffy’s ex-boyfriend. In my opinion, discussion of this is so vital. It happens to so many people, and often those it is happening to don’t actually recognise it at the time, as Tiffy didn’t, so highlighting the signs is so important. As well as being a particularly poignant part of the novel, Tiffy’s healing, support system and the involvement of the police was also a very valuable inclusion, showing that it’s possible to deal with and move on from something like this.
After I read this book, I read a bit more about the author. I love to write and although I can never find the courage to write my own book, I found her story very inspiring for myself. I related to a lot of how she started writing and how she found her ideas and it’s made me think a lot about my own ideas and whether I can put them into a novel. I also loved learning about how she found the inspiration for this book – I love a little behind the scenes look into books!
A classic rom-com with extremely lovable characters and an event-filled story, also with such vital inclusion of serious issues that need to be spoken about more, this book is one of my favourites from this year. I’ve already recommended it to so many people, and now I’m highly recommending it to you too!
Have you read The Flatshare? What did you think?