The Flatshare: Everything you’ve heard about how funny and wonderful this is? It’s all true!

The Flatshare book review

What is this about?: Tiffy finds herself in dire straits enough to consider sharing a bed and a flat with Leon, a nurse who works the night shift. No-one in Tiffy’s life can believe she’s actually going to do this, but they’re all on board if it gets her away from her awful ex. So it happens. And then Leon and Tiffy get to know each other

What else is this about?: A whole lot more than you’d think. Tiffy’s journey in this is one from not knowing what to do without being attached to Justin to recognising the emotional abuse she endured at his hands. But, it’s delivered with good humour, a little bit of tears (me and Tiffy) and support from everyone else in her circle. Leon’s past hints at experiences much like Tiffy’s by watching his mother go through exactly what she did. They are far more complex characters than you’d think.

Blurb

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations?
Can true love blossom even if you never see one another?
Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?

Whatever you’ve heard about The Flatshare, I’m going to say just double the cuteness and good humour and then you’ll reach how good this book really is.

This is one of those books where I feel I’m about to write an incoherent review because I enjoyed everything, and I want to talk about everything but I can’t because spoilers. Sighs.

Tiffy and Leon

Tiffy is desperate when she agrees to rent Leon’s small flat and let’s face it, I can’t add this without sounding dirty: his bed —  to get away from the smarmy jerk that is her ex Justin. Her circle of friends do their best to give her other options, but Tiffy is determined to get back on her own two feet, pay back the money she owes Justin and take control of her life without having to rely on anyone else.

Right away, you get the sense that Tiffy has been seeing the world and herself through Justin goggles and this is how she’s going to break away from that. At the same time though, she’s also a little bit like bright sunshine. She’s a vibrant character, leaping off the page and the post-its and bringing colour to Leon’s life — literally when it comes to her stuff she moved into her flat. The author manages this fine line of this Tiffy with one coming to terms with who her ex made her into.

Leon on the other hand is a man of few words — no really, their chapters are vastly different in that respect. Where Tiffy’s chapters are long and filled with her train of thought that is half-hilarious and half-worrying, with a dash of exhausting, Leon’s chapters are sparse and to the point. He is a pallitive care nurse, dealing with people who have no time for the kind of world that Tiffy lives in. Leon is also working hard to help his brother Richie, who was wrongly imprisoned for an attempted robbery and between that and watching people he genuinely cares about dying and being sick, there’s very little time for the niceties in Leon’s life — much to his girlfriend, Kay’s, annoyance.

Theirs is a relationship of concessions, mostly on his part, and it’s almost easier for him than actually having a conversation about the things he worries about in his life. Kay on the other hand, wants him present in her life and not just on the weekends.

So Tiffy and Leon are both trying to find their feet in their lives in different ways, and are struggling when it comes to their real lives, but it’s their friendship struck up over the post-its they leave each other where you get to see their humour and good spirits. It’s kind of like their oasis with everything else happening in their lives — so much so that Tiffy offers to get Gerty, he fabulous lawyer friend, to take a look at Richie’s case.

In essence this is a friendship, about as good as you can get, just over post-it notes. Which means when they do meet, it’s about as hilarious and a comedic as you imagine a book like this would have.

It is the ice-breaker they need, and so their relationship progresses — through post-its and real life — to being romantic.

But here’s where The Flatshare proves its more than you think it is

The Flatshare is the kind of effortlessly funny book that makes you laugh at every other sentence, and it’s not snark. It’s the kind of genuine funny that makes you burst into laughter without realising it.

However, it also tackles Tiffy coming to terms with the kind of emotional abuse and gaslighting that she endured at Justin’s hands — not to mention the effects it had on her other relationships as well. Her friends — Mo, Gerty and Rachel — are a fierce source of support for her, but they could never break through the blinkers she had on about Justin, and part of this book is her coming to terms with what that relationship was like.

Even in the midst of such tough topics, there is humour and good heartedness and you can’t help but cheer Tiffy on.

Worth noting is that this is Tiffy’s journey, Tiffy’s realisation as to what Justin was doing and getting help for herself. And, the book touches on how it affects how she views new romances, and the PTSD she has a result. In addition, Leon has his own experiences watching someone go through exactly what Tiffy has, and for him as well, there’s a lot to come to terms with in his past and present.

There’s a wealth of things to be said about how well done this part of the book is, without being preachy and while I understand the humour of the blurb and the focus on the romance, I appreciated this part of it more, and what the author was trying to add into what was a delightful romance.

Normally, I would be of two minds of a book that takes on such topics in addition to a romance, but Beth O’Leary makes it workand for that I am saying: go read The Flatshare.

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