Every now and again there’s a book that you pick up because it looks like something light and easy that you might enjoy but, quite unexpectedly, you fall completely in love with it. The Flatshare, by Beth O’Leary, is one of those books.
From The Flatshare website:
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 unusual premise of this books sets up a highly entertaining situation for the two loveable protagonists to ‘meet’. With lives so closely interwoven yet completely separate, Tiffy and Leon develop a relationship that is strangely intimate without ever having met in person.
It’s weird how easily you can get to know someone from the traces they leave behind.The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary
I absolutely adored the communication via post-it which makes up a good portion of the storytelling. It gives a fun, quirky insight to the two main characters’ lives but, when combined with the alternating first person narratives, reveals the characters’ beautiful complexity. An emotionally abusive ex lurking in the shadows and a wrongfully imprisoned brother allow O’Leary to touch on dark and difficult, but extremely important, issues such as PTSD and failings in the legal system, in a way that feels like it is awareness raising without being overwhelming.
In spite of its darker elements the story is wholly uplifting and filled with hope. There are so many threads to each character’s story but they interweave seamlessly. One of the things I especially loved was how real the characters felt. Tiffy and Leon both act and respond in ways that feel really true to life and their particular circumstances. They are both utterly compelling and appealing.
This story delivers everything I love to see in contemporary fiction: hugely likeable characters; will they, won’t they romance (that isn’t overdone!); awesome cast of supporting characters and fantastic friendships; the perfect amount of tension to drive the plot forward. It’s a feel-good must-read that is going straight in my favourites list and will definitely be re-read. One for fans of Me Before You, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae – I can’t recommend it enough.
What are your recommendations for original, feel-good contemporary fiction?