The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. Quercus, 2019.

I’ve read The Flatshare before and really enjoyed it, but I kept seeing adverts for a TV adaptation of it, so I was prompted to revisit the novel.

The Flatshare tells the story of Tiffy and Leon. Tiffy needs a cheap place to live after breaking up with her boyfriend; Leon needs extra income to help pay for a lawyer for his brother. He comes up with the idea of renting out his flat when he’s not there – working night shifts as a hospice nurse means his flat is empty during the evenings and weekends.

And so begins an unconventional flatshare: two flatmates who share a bed but never at the same time. And, at the request of Leon’s girlfriend, the two never meet. They communicate through Post-It notes left around the flat when necessary, and a friendship begins to blossom.

The Flatshare is an easy-to-read novel with an engaging storyline – the way the chapters alternate between the two main characters gives the novel a fast pace that keeps you turning the pages. The change of style between Tiffy and Leon’s chapters keeps each character distinct, and both characters are engaging and rounded. The secondary characters are great, too.

When I first heard about The Flatshare I loved the premise of the book, and I love it still – two people never meeting, but communicating through letters or notes. This isn’t a new concept, yet it’s executed in a fun and fresh way. There’s something nostalgic about them writing notes instead of using technology; it feels like a more intimate form of communication for two people who share the same bed – strictly keeping to their own sides – but never at the same time.

When I read the book the first time, I guessed how the main story would play out, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. There are other elements of the story, though, that did take me by surprise. It was these that added an extra depth to this book for me, elevating it from a standard chick-lit/romance novel. I won’t give any spoilers, but O’Leary treats a difficult subject with delicacy and insight.

There was something very comforting about rereading this book, this time around. Revisiting these characters and being a part of their story again was really enjoyable and I missed the characters once I’d finished reading.

Overall, I really enjoy The Flatshare. It’s a well-written page-turner with a heart-warming story.


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