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A Review of Beth O’Leary’s ‘The Flatshare’

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

*Spoilers Included*

TW: Emotional Abuse

I read O’Leary’s novel a while ago and I have to admit it’s a book that I return to time and time again for a sense of comfort and familiarity. I bought this book on a whim because it was on sale in Sainsbury’s for half price and I thought ‘why not?’ So it was such a pleasant surprise to firstly get the book on discount and secondly, for it to become such a valuable book for me to read. Since I’m studying Classical Studies and English, I’m reading pretty much the whole time – basically every day. So finding non-academic books for myself at the moment, is pretty important as it gives me a break from having to overanalyse and think critically.

The novel follows Leon and Tiffy, two people that have never met even though they live in the same one-bed flat. Weird right? Essentially, Leon occupies the flat during the day while Tiffy is at work. At night Leon works and Tiffy occupies the flat. It’s a story told in alternating chapters, following Tiffy and Leon’s relationship which develops through beautifully crafted post-it-notes. Things begin to get difficult when Tiffy’s ex-boyfriend reveals himself to be possessive and Leon’s imprisoned brother gets involved – so this complicated flatshare just got even more complicated, if that’s possible?

The basic plot of Leon and Tiffy sharing a one-bed flat is a little difficult to believe at first, in that it’s not very realistic. Along with this, there are some clunky plot points that could have been developed more. At the end of the day, it’s a novel to read out of enjoyment, so once you get past these minor issues, everything seems to fall into place. I wasn’t expecting such a serious underlying tone and discussion to this novel, but O’Leary achieved the perfect narrating tone amidst the developing love story. As a result, it felt like a very realistic and honest depiction of the struggles and anxiety of life, and the attempt to find something good that prospers amongst reality.

The alternating narration really helped to develop Leon and Tiffy’s characters, and made you want them to succeed and be together. Their relationship is wholesome and O’Leary’s development of this relationship seemed completely realistic since Leon and Tiffy start off as friends and then the romance blossoms between them. It was also refreshing to see how both Leon and Tiffy had their own independent lives and careers, meaning that their relationship wasn’t the be all or end all of the book, their relationship essentially aided their characters and they made each other better.

I would definitely recommend this book, whether you’re an avid reader or someone that doesn’t read that much, since it’s a very easy to read and progresses quite quickly. It’s a book that you could curl up on a Sunday afternoon reading, even if it’s just to give yourself a break from looking at any screens. If you’re looking for a feel-good, short read that’s a romance, this is the book for you.

I'm the Sex and Relationships Editor for Exeter and a third year student studying Classical Studies and English with a passion for literature, art and film!
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