Author: Beth O’Leary
Rating: 5 Stars
Dates read: 12 May 19
Publication date: 18 Apr 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
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 is one of those books that you hear about or stumble across and you can’t help but read because you’re fascinated about the concept. The book centres around Tiffy and her quest to move into a new place that ultimately sees her share a flat with the other main character Leon. It’s a really fun and organic contemporary romance that has strong friendships, organic romance, humour, and a sense of reality often missing from the genre.
The book starts with Tiffy looking for a new flat to live in after an acrimonious split from a manipulative partner. As she lives in London and house prices are astronomically high, she accepts an advert for a flatshare with Leon. The catch? It’s a one-bedroomed flat, so they would be sharing everything – including a bed. Leon works nights and doesn’t stay there at weekends, and Tiffy works in the day, so in theory, their schedules will never overlap and then will always have the flat to themselves. Sounds intriguing, am I right?
Tiffy is quite outgoing, and when she moves in, she moves her life with her (as you would do if you were living somewhere new). Her belongings, way of life, energy, and baking habits leave an instant impact on Leon’s life, and I like that this is not an instantly smooth transition. She begins to leave notes to introduce herself (they do not meet for a considerable portion of the book) and it starts a great back and forth by written word between the pair that allows then to get to know each other slowly and refreshingly.
Leon is much more reserved than Tiffy. He is shaken slightly by the move, and by the effect of Tiffy on his relationship with his girlfriend. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say it doesn’t last, but I think it shows how he is happy to stick to routine and have someone else pick up the new or extraneous details in his life. He works in a care home on the night shift, and has relationships with his patients and staff that he clearly values highly, but that showcases his quieter slightly eccentric side.
Their interactions with her friends and sister are funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, as are those with his patients and his brother. I really enjoyed the merging of their worlds. As Leon’s circle is widened, Tiffy ends up helping him on his quest to find the long lost love of a war veteran and attends a birthday party for a young girl close to Leon’s heart. Tiffy’s friends counsel her through her recovery period after her awful relationship with her ex. In doing so, we see how powerful and kind they are, and see how they ultimately stretch their efforts to help Leon’s brother.
The storyline featuring Richie was also one I thoroughly enjoyed. It tested viewpoints on prisoners and the concept of guilt and corruption and showed how important strong representation and faith is. Richie maintains as positive an air as he can do, but it weighs heavy on Leon’s shoulders, and it ultimately the dedication of Richie to his family, Leon to Richie, and Tiffy to them both, creates a strong bond and storyline that is in contrast and harmony with the more light hearted romance arc.
In a different light, the ex-boyfriend’s story is also heartbreaking and eye opening. O’Leary approaches the idea of emotional and mental abuse gently, developing the ideas, thoughts, and emotions as Tiffy allows herself too and her friends encourage her to face up to. His true manipulative power stretches out to Martin, her boss, who is equal parts stupid and vile, and again approaches the delicate dynamic of abusive control in a really eye-opening way.
As you can probably tell, I really liked this story. It felt very new and refreshing in a saturated market, and enjoyably focused on relationships, feelings, and interactions, as opposed to sex. It is a book that has gone under the radar and deserves more recognition than it is currently receiving, and needs to be made into some sort of televised/filmed adaptation pronto!