Book Review: Beth O’Leary’s “The Flat Share”

My last read of July, I actually finished this a few days ago now, but I’ve been a bit too lazy to write a review – but here it is! Much like my previous book – The Hating Game – this was another out-of-character delve into a romance novel, and – surprisingly – another that I have enjoyed!

An extremely popular author, I am constantly seeing reviews and praise for The Flat Share, The Road Trip, and The Switch – all of which I do actually have on my bookshelf, but this is the first one of her books that I have read so far. I’m sure it won’t take me too long to get round to her others after reading this one: The Flat Share was beautifully sweet and light-hearted, the characters were interesting and funny, and the plot was engaging and not simply focused on a love interest – although that was one of the prevailing themes.

The Plot…

After being asked to move-out of her ex-boyfriend’s flat (who she still has feelings for), Tiffy is now in a rather desperate situation: finding affordable accommodation in the pricey real estate of London (I feel you, girl). An underpaid Editorial Assistant, Tiffy’s prospects are looking fairly bleak: either living in the grimmest bed-sit known to man, or a flat share – or rather – a bed share.

Opting for the latter, Tiffy moves in with Leon, trying to make the best out of a bad situation by adorning their new shared living environment with her splashes of colour, masses of scarves and dresses, unhealthy baking, and homely blankets. The arrangement is clear – not to mention heavily regimented by Leon’s girlfriend – Tiffy will have the flat from 5pm to 9am, and Leon, who works nights, will have the flat from 9am to 5pm while Tiffy is at work. In fact, they never have to actually meet at all. It’s the ideal situation for everyone. But things rarely go according to plan.

What starts off as a blossoming friendship built on the foundations of hand-written notes scattered all over the flat, soon changes once the pair accidentally bump into each other in person. Well, living together like that – it was bound to happen at some point, wasn’t it? Neither can ignore the chemistry they share, and everything seems to have changed now that they have actually met in real life. But things aren’t so straightforward: Leon’s brother’s trial to prove him innocent of his accused crimes is fast approaching, and Tiffy is realising the true toxic nature of her previous relationship, along with the scary fact that her ex-boyfriend – Justin – appears to be stalking her. Amidst their chaotic lives, will Tiffy and Leon explore their friendship further, or will it prove too complicated?

With more than just a love story to follow, I really enjoyed this book, and cringed far less than I did while reading The Hating Game. Although the romance was naturally predictable, there were many other side-stories and interesting detours that kept the plot captivating. I also really liked the varying styles of writing: Tiffy’s narration was witty and relatively detailed, while Leon’s narration was instead short sentences and an almost note-style format. They were so jarringly different, it was impossible to not know who was narrating.

Would I recommend?

A rather funny love story, I would definitely recommend The Flat Share if you enjoy romantic comedies. Aside from the romance though, The Flat Share was a beautiful display of friendship – Tiffy’s closest friends – Rachel, Gerty, and Mo – are constantly at hand to offer support and love, particularly after revelations are made about her ex, Justin. The personal growth that Tiffy makes throughout the novel, having come out of an emotionally manipulative relationship, and proceeded with therapy to realise the gaslighting and abuse, learning to truly value herself and how she is treated, all made for an empowering and touching read.

Thankfully (at least thankfully from my perspective), it’s not just a romantic story, there are many other intriguing sub-plots, and it was a very good read!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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