Review: The Switch

The Switch by Beth O'Leary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The loss of a child or sibling can be one of the hardest things that a family can endure and this novel takes a look at the way that loss affects three generations of women- grandmother, mother, and daughter. After her sister Carla dies, twenty-nine year old Leena throws herself into her work to the extent that she almost suffers a breakdown. After a panic attack while working on a major account, her London-based employer takes the unusual step of forcing her to go on holiday rather than terminating her employment. Leena's grandmother Eileen, age seventy-nine and recently divorced, feels lonely and stifled in her small town in the Yorkshire Dales. At loose ends, Leena travels to visit her grandmother, carefully avoiding seeing her mother Marianne, who lives in the same town. Leena and Eileen hatch a plan to switch homes for a time, so that Leena can relax in the countryside and Eileen can go to the big city to see if she can rekindle her dating life.

This is a nicely written, if a bit cliché, contemporary romance. You know everyone will end up fine and happy again, that grandmother and granddaughter will find romance, and the mother will ease her heartache over the loss of her other daughter. While not treading a lot of new ground for this genre (women's contemporary fiction/romance) the novel is well-written, and the secondary characters are interesting. I very much enjoyed the focus on older characters, who get to have their own interesting lives, and the insight that just because someone lives in a small town or in the country doesn't mean they can't have had a fascinating and useful life. The injection of pragmatism about Eileen's online dating experience near the end was a welcome development, as there was so much I found unlikely in her experiences to that point.

The audiobook of the novel, voiced by Alison Steadman (Eileen) and Daisy Edgar-Jones (Leena), is very well performed and engaging for the listener.

I received digital audiobook copies of this book in exchange for an honest review.

BTW, honestly, if I spent two months in the Yorkshire Dales I might never leave. It's so beautiful there...

photo credit: Ian McGregor

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