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 rule book out the window….
I’m probably one of the last people to get round to reading (or listening) to this marvellous book, so I will be preaching to the choir here but, OMG, why did I wait so long to get to it? Now I understand what all the hype has been about and why the book has won awards, I absolutely blooming’ loved every second of it.
If you are one of the very few people who have not yet got to this book (and I advise you to correct that immediately), let me try and explain just what is so special about it. Firstly, of course, there is the genius premise behind the story. What would happen if a man and a woman were sharing a flat and a bed, but never meet? How much can you find out about someone just by sharing their living space? How intimate can you become with another person without actually ever seeing them face to face? On the audio version of this book which I listened to, Beth O’Leary explains how she came up with the idea behind the novel, and it was fascinating to hear what sparks a story idea and the process behind the story development, and I really thought it was a gorgeous story to hear and leant a new dimension to the book. The plot is so clever and unique, this is the first great thing about it, this is a love story that you’ve never heard before.
Secondly, the characters. Oh, how I love them. Tiffy is the kind of person you completely want as your best friend. Warm and open and caring. Scatter-brained and clever and creative and funny. She will worm her way into your heart immediately, and you will want to take care of her, hug her and make everything alright for her from the off. Then there is Leon. Also caring, but cautious and guarded and quiet and reserved. Careful not to give his heart away. Reticent, but warm and loving underneath. You know he and Tiffy are perfect for each other from the beginning, but how can they fall in love if they never meet, and will circumstances and other people get in their way. You will be desperate to know, desperate to help but THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO except hope and listen as the story unfolds. The author gives them such distinct and individual voices, it is always clear who is telling the story at any time throughout the dual perspective narrative and she perfectly conveys their personalities through their speech. There is also a supporting cast of friends and foes to round out the story, each one perfect for their role. I absolutely adored or loathed all of them as required.
The book is beautifully paced, funny, moving, engrossing and appealing all the way through. Not a scene, not a word is wasted. Things happen at exactly the right moment to propel the story on and keep the reader interested but the tension up. It is perfectly balanced and executed and, if I had read this book a month earlier, it would have made it into my Top 10 books of 2019 list. It is already a strong contender for 2020.
A final word about the audio version of this book. As this is a dual perspective narrative, from the alternating voices of Tiffy and Leon, it is read by two different narrators and it works beautifully. Both of them completely embody the characters they are portraying and they really bring the book to life. One of the things that really works for me about this novel is getting to see both sides of the events that happen in the book from the perspective of each protagonist and I think, having two different voices narrating these events in the audiobook, really brings this contrast to life and probably enhanced my enjoyment of the story. Audiobooks have become a big thing for me over the past 8 months (after being unable to read physical or ebooks for a period last year) and I am consuming more and more of them. This one is a particularly wonderful example and if you are a fan of audiobooks, this is one that is worth the investment.
The Flatshare is out now in hardback, ebook and audiobook, and will be published in paperback on 20 February. You can buy a copy here.
About the Author
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).
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