Book: The Flat Share
Author: Beth O’Leary
I just finished The Flat Share and I haven’t stopped smiling. Sometimes a simple sweet funny story is all one needs. After Dracula, my last read, this light and fresh book is all I needed to put me in the holiday spirit.
Here’s what it’s about
So this is the story of Tiffy and Leon. Fresh out of a breakup from her super-rich boyfriend Tiffy is looking for an inexpensive place to live in. Leon, meanwhile, desperately needs money to help his (wrongly accused) brother out of prison. Since he works nights he comes up with the perfect solution – a flat-share. The flat belongs to the tenant during the night and weekends while Leon comes in during the day. He spends weekends at his girlfriend’s, so it’s all good.
Leon’s girlfriend is uncomfortable with this arrangement and makes Leon promise that he would never meet Tiffy. That’s not difficult, what with their divergent work schedules.
However, Leon soon finds out the Tiffy’s presence fills the flat even when she isn’t there. And also that they’re two very different people. She’s all things bright and clumsy and cluttered with cow-shaped cushions and paisley patterned bean bags. She calls her taste ‘eclectic’. He calls it a ‘crazy woman’s jumble sale’.
Then begin their post-it conversations. Hers – long winding and funny; his – short and casual. Gradually, the post-its take over the house. They’re everywhere – in the bathroom, on the fridge, by the casserole, beside the baking tray, above the kitchen bin. And that’s how the two creep into each other’s lives.
The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary is a warm cosy read, just right for the holiday season.Tweet
The story unfolds through Tiffy and Leon’s alternating perspectives and of course the sticky notes. The writing is simple and fun, a bit stilted sometimes, because well, we’re talking stick notes here. The story is pretty straightforward too but it isn’t boring or cliched. It has more than enough to keep you hooked.
Leon and Tiffy are perfect, as is the gradual progression of their relationship. I loved the way shy, introvert, sensitive León begins to open up bit by bit. And I loved Tiffy – empathetic, colourful yet never overbearing.
The side-characters were adorable too. Everyone should have friends like Tiffy’s and co-workers like Leon’s.
O’Leary touches upon the topic of emotional abuse and gaslighting. Because we only hear Tiffy’s point of view, like her, the reader isn’t aware when it is actually happening. Only later, when she begins to think back and analyse specific incidents that it comes to light. That’s exactly how gaslighting works.
Here’s another interesting bit about perspectives: Since we get to know the characters only through their own perception, when we first read about Tiffy, we get the impression that she’s a ‘large’ person – someone too tall, too broad – fat even. But that’s just her perception of herself (perhaps aided by her ex-boyfriend). Later, when we get to see her through Leon’s eyes we find she’s tall and perfectly proportioned, beautiful. I loved how O’Leary did that – beauty truly lies in the eye of the beholder.
All I’ll say in the end is – read the book.
Last thought: A fresh uncomplicated read, perfect for the holidays.