Okay so yes – we’re back to romance. I’m distancing them out between some others though! Not my fault it’s probably about 80% of my kindle library!! 😉
The Flatshare boasts a very odd premise right off the bat, from the marketing to the cover, from the blurb to the first page; it’s addressed very quickly. This is what initially drew me into the book, and it kind of intrigued me more than anything. The fact that I bought this book alongside 4 others and it was the one I read and finished first says something I think – if not a testament to O’Leary for drawing me in.
It’s centred around our protagonists Leon, who works night shifts at a local (?) hospital, and Tiffy, who works at a publisher. The story is told through both their eyes, which helps us understand them as people quickly, as well as their own personal troubles which envelop the plot as the book ploughs on. Maybe because of their professions, the turns and strifes of our characters seem very “real”, and down to earth. It feels like two very different worlds coming together through the Flatshare, and in essence Leon and Tiffy. Despite them never seeing each other (initially); their secrets and respective stories are conveyed through post-it notes to each other. This begins an agonising “OH JUST TELL THEM FOR GOODNESS SAKE” on more than one occasion for us, the reader.
In my opinion, I don’t think there’s too much flow to this book. I don’t actually mean this in a bad way, more in the fact that the events portrayed are almost all necessary; and it’s good to see the fast/slow moments and events for the characters. For example, there’s a nice little 3-4 chapter arc centred around knitting garments which ends up with Leon being topless in a castle in Wales. It’s nice to see the smaller little details as well as the big bust ups/life changing moments, and when the book is set over a significant amount of time – it’s very easy to lose this.
It’s just normal! I think that’s what I’m getting at here. I started this with the intrigue of a weird situation – but how the hell does O’Leary portray this as the most normal thing in the world? Within 10 pages you think it’s fine, why hasn’t someone thought of this sooner? To be able to spin a situation like this in such a short time is baffling. Throughout people question their situation, and you think to yourself “Yes but you clearly DON’T UNDERSTAND” as if you know the characters and why they’re doing it. You’re on their side, and this effect really pays off at the books climax – when you’re rooting for them the hardest.
The side characters and story arcs are probably to most prevalent stories in the book. Yes, you’ve got the major arc of the protagonists, but they’re quite problem-less for the most part. The fleshed out characters, plausible story lines and publishing events really add to the believability a little more. O’Leary juggles this well between the two narrators and it really comes into its own in the latter pages.
I also never knew I’d learn about crochet during the course of the book, but here we are, perusing through the Goodreads pages on such subjects. If my next review is delayed definitely blame it on this! The thing I’ve taken away from this book is that no matter who you are, there’s definitely a nice thing you can do for others. The Flatshare is founded on kindness and positive actions to one another, and imagine what can be achieved if everyone carried out just ONE of these actions? Credit to Tiffy, Leon, Gerty, Katerin, Mo, Ritchie and Rachel for carrying out their fair share.
Overall it’s a nice little book to drown yourself in on a rainy Sunday, with a lovely cup of a tea and a couple of biscuits. A twee premise, characters you can root for and a couple you can hate. It’s Escapism at its best, and sometimes you just can’t beat it.
“Sometimes the happy thing just happens.”