A delightful love story with a slightly dysfunctional meet-cute, Beth O’Leary came to warm our bitter hearts with her debut novel, The Flat Share. A wonderful and uplifting story exploring abuse, growth and relationships from two perspectives.
Tiffy and Leon share a flat.
Tiffy and Leon share a bed.
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
Desperately needing a place to live after her boyfriend dumps her, Tiffy’s choices of a cheap flat are slim in London. Leon works nights and is in need of more cash to support his brother so looks for a flatmate to cover costs. Two people living in the same space at different times seems simple enough. Sticky note conversations, left-overs and extra furniture is the basis of their new living situation. Yet throw in an obsessive ex-boyfriend, demanding jobs and an imprisoned brother and you have one very complicated setup.
The whole premise was already entertaining and imaginative, but O’Leary fills the story further with charm, humour and life lessons to inspire. Tiffy’s pain from her breakup leads to personal growth and the ability to see her mistreatment in the relationship. Knowing this, she finds confidence in herself and sets her own rules going forward. Her ex, Jason, has the toxic stereotypes that have often been regarded as “romantic” or “protective” in previous circumstances. It was wonderful to see that was not the case in this story, but instead shows the emotional manipulation of his actions and the very satisfying consequences towards his aggressive ways.
The characters are definitely the best part of the book and, judging by reviews on her latest work, O’Leary seems to have a talent for the character-making craft. Tiffy and Leon are completely different people and their personalities are unique, not only within their qualities but in the writing style itself. Even secondary characters receive a careful exploration, with each friend revealing distinctive qualities that are all collectively endearing. From Tiffy’s no-nonsense best friend, to Leon’s sweet-talking brother, to a hospital patient with a knack for knitting. These characters are so well written and fleshed out, you desperately want them to be real.
The Flat Share was a heartening and hilarious story that you’ll want to continue reading forever. That’s the only issue I had with the entire book, I hate that it ended. I wanted to continue following their lives and know what happened next for the characters. It’s the perfect hopeful read during this time and I assure you it will lift your spirits.
Words and picture by Hannah Walker.