This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
10.04.19 / Romantic Comedy / Quercus Books / Audio Download / Duration: 9h 35m
Target Audience: For readers looking for an interesting take on the usual uplifting feel-good romantic comedy with plenty of hilariously awkward interactions.
About The Flat Share
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 Review
As a blogger I don’t typically find myself reading any type of Rom-Com unless it is integrated into another genre in any shape or form. I got a copy of The Flatshare on Titleshare which is Quercus Books new review platform for audio-books. I had seen a few positive reviews from excellent bloggers so I thought I would give it a go. I am so glad I did, especially as an audio-book as it was certainly a satisfying listen.
The Flatshare follows eccentric book editor Tiffy and palliative care nurse Leon who, due to deteriorating financial circumstances on both sides, have began to share not only the same flat but the same bed. After Tiffy’s breaks up with her long term boyfriend Justin and is forced to move out of his house, she answers Leon’s add for a flatshare.
Tiffy works for a small independent publisher which is a satisfying job for a DIY crafter like herself yet pays very little so she faces a choice. Choosing between a one bedroom apartment with a stranger or moving in with the resident creep Martin from work is an easy decision. Plus this particular flatshare means that she will never meet the other occupant. The tenancy is being dealt with through Leon’s partner and there are strict agreements of when Tiffy can be in or out of the flat so her and Leon never have to cross paths. Against the advice of her friends, Tiffy agrees to move in.
Leon is dedicated to his work as a nurse and to his brother’s legal case. Leon’s brother is in prison and he needs endless help with solicitor fees. Leon realises that he barely spends any time at his flat and decides that subletting will allow him to raise more funds. His girlfriend Kay finds the perfect candidate in Tiffy, a bubbly and idiosyncratic woman who is not threat to her relationship with Leon. Leon is just happy to have the financial help and he is sure that who ever this woman is, he will never see her. When Leon arrives at the flat to see Tiffy’s homemade clothes, throws and other eclectic items cast amongst his own he’s immediately unsettled. But a generous helping of baked goods, a nice note and a comfy new bean bag chair eases his discomfort. Whoever Tiffy is, she is a colourful and curious person.
Tiffy and Leon begin to regularly leave small notes for each other opening up about their lives and the problems they face. As they begin to understand each other from a distance, from the impression they leave on the space they share, Leon and Tiffy form an interesting bond that sparks life back into their bleak days. As the pressure mounts towards meeting each other in person, their expectations and fears begin to get the better of them. With so much hope for their first encounter, neither person wants to ruin their chances. Yet sharing the same bed means they are bound to run into each other eventually. The pieces of Tiffy and Leon’s lives and personalities begin to knit together to make a life that both of them want. They just have to meet first.
Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a uplifting yet tense story about appreciating the essence of those you spend your life with. Accepting the good and expelling the bad to leave yourself in a better place. How taking appearance out of the equation of a relationship can give people’s energy, motivation and attitude a chance to make an impression that may have been dismissed upon a first glance. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Tiffy and Leon. There are so many charming moments to be had in a unusual love story such as this. Throw in a wrongly convicted brother and a disturbing ex boyfriend prone to gas-lighting and it results in some rather uncomfortable and intense twists that highlight even more that it is impossible to move on with life unless you have faith in those important to you and you get rid of people who take advantage or crush the dreams of those around them.
The Flatshare contains within as many laughs, cheesy moments, genuine people and chaos as you might expect and more. Listening to this on audio book only expanded this experience. Hearing this story from two distinct points of view really ramps up the charm and expectations of how everything is going to turn out. I think the voice artists did a great job bringing this narrative to life and you can really tell the transformation of both characters through their performances.
My absolute favourite moment (and totally worth the time of reading by itself) was the first real meeting of Tiffy and Leon and the voice actors couldn’t have done a better job ensuring the listener grasps the weight of the pure awkwardness between the two of them. I laughed so hard. My biggest surprise of this novel was the approach to gas-lighting which Beth O’Leary dealt with incredibly well. Including the more sinister and conditioning style of abuse that Tiffy didn’t even register until it was too late. It is an vital subject to be exposed in any form and Beth went a step further to enlighten those to forms of mental abuse and manipulation that subtly alters an already weakened mind to a point where the very person being abused can’t see it as anything but meaningful attention. So big kudos for that.
The Flatshare isn’t my usual kind of book but I have been branching out to test myself as a reader. I didn’t know if I would appreciate a romantic comedy but when the feel good moments kick in it is hard to resist. If you want a book or a listen to that will lift you up and make you laugh whilst reflecting on how your own relationships affect your ability to enjoy life then The Flatshare is waiting for you.
About Beth O’Leary
Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being in reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work. She is now writing novels full time, and if she’s not at her desk, you’ll usually find her curled up somewhere with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).