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?
The Switch follows Leena (Eileen) Cotton along with her grandmother Eileen Cotton in this heartwarming journey about love, grief and putting yourself out there again. I laughed quite a bit and definitely cried a time or two. It was such a cute story that I just couldn’t seem to put down, or in this case stop listening to.
When we first meet Lina she’s still dealing with the loss of her sister, stressed to the max along with taking too much on at work and her relationship with her mother is not the best. Eileen is of course dealing with the death of her granddaughter as well as trying to hold her own daughter together. She’s also freshly divorced and longing for love. Leena and Eileen decide to switch lives, Lina to grandmas small village of Hamleigh to properly have some time to come to terms and sort things out in her life and Eileen to London to hit the dating scene and see the London life she could have had.
I adored Eileen from the start. She made this entire book for me and I looked forward to her chapters the most. If you had told me I would love reading a book about a little old lady finding romance I would have called you crazy. But it’s true, she just had this magnetic pull and can do attitude that drew me in and made me want to know her. Age wasn’t holding her back and it’s true that when you’re young you think of older people having these small, trivial lives. We get put in Eileen’s shoes though and that couldn’t be further from the truth. She was the glue that held her family together. I adored her big dreams and her even bigger heart.
Leena has some big shoes to fill after sending her grandma off into the city and kinda gets off on the wrong foot with people right away. Her journey was more about finding herself again, deciding who she wants to be now that her sister is gone. It was a happy journey with some sadness tinged moments, different from her grandmothers but just what she needed. While I admittedly didn’t like her at first, she and her journey were so well written that by the end of her story Leena was just as badass as her grandmother and I was just as in love with her.
The side characters in the book were amazing to say the least. They were so fleshed out, each with their own stories and I truly felt like I knew them versus them just being there to move the story along or full in friendships gaps. Lina’s friends were so incredibly kind and there for Eileen. They really took her under their wing and she did the same for them. She was just magnetic, meeting new people everywhere she went and creating a new community of those both young and old. The Hamleigh crew was tougher for Lina to win over but still full of some of the most spirited over 80’s I’ve come across. They each had their own lives happening, that were anything but small, and while initially she is iced out Lina does win them over.
This was definitely a lightly romantic novel. We get to see Eileen’s dating journey but it truly takes a backseat to the other plot lines. It was more realistic, it’s not all romance 24/7 we have other life events happening. It’s not until the end that both Lina and Eileen’s romances really blossom. We are of course introduced to the love interests right away but it’s a slow journey with twists and turns, never a straight path for either woman. I really enjoy that about O’Leary’s books. We have a pretty good idea of who they’re going to end up with, just not how they’re going to get there.
Overall The Switch will probably end up on my favorites shelf. It was truly a beautiful story from start to finish that really made me think. It’s more than just the romance novel it’s marketed as and I could not recommend it enough.