by Beth O’Leary
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Number of pages: 333
Women’s Fiction/Romance M/F
Read 4/4/21 to 4/5/21
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
One of my favorite comfort movies is The Holiday, in which Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swap houses in order to take last minute trips to get away from their romantic disasters. Of course, this book spoke to me when I read the blurb. And the fact that the main characters are a grandmother and granddaughter had me even more intrigued. This story got a lot of good buzz when it was first published last summer and I was a bit afraid to read it right away in fear that I’d be disappointed. While the story didn’t take the shape I expected it to, I was not disappointed.
I’ll start with the younger of the two women, Leena. It took a minute for me to get attached to her. She’s not a bad person, but she was the type of go-getter that can be grating at first. To her credit, she really just wanted to help people in her “new” neighborhood, as her grandmother always has. There is another issue with Leena that has to do with her mom and her recently deceased sister that really bothered me. I tried so hard to see Leena’s side of this issue, but couldn’t help but be disappointed that she didn’t try as hard to see her mom’s side and give the support that was needed so they both could find closure and peace. Of course, the two work on these issues throughout the book. Yet every time the subject came up and this part of the story was delved into, I couldn’t help but lose a bit of respect for Leena.
As for Eileen, that woman is a gem! She’s a go-getter just as much as Leena, but has learned tact throughout the years that Leena doesn’t yet have. Throughout this story I knew who I wanted Eileen to end up with, and the author took me on a trip I wasn’t expecting with the character. I’m glad for it. Eileen deserved an adventure.
While I enjoyed this story, I didn’t feel I was able to connect on a deep level with any of the characters. There was a lot going on and a little time to do it in, which meant the jumping around was often felt by me. I’m a timeline/detail fanatic so when things don’t seem to be possible in the time allowed in a story I tend to notice. That’s a me problem, not something that will bother everyone. On my end, it sometimes took me out of the story.
All in all, I had fun with this book and will surely pick up another story by this author in the near future.