Book Reviews

The Switch by Beth O’Leary: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Published August 18th, 2020 by Macmillan Audio.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Maybe it’s time for The Switch…

Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.

But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?

Thank you to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC of this audiobook. All thoughts are my own.

“That’s what Eileens do. They look after each other.”

This is the first book I’ve read (i.e. listened to) by Beth O’Leary, and I have to say, I get the hype. If O’Leary’s first novel is anything like The Switch, I’m sure its phenomenal and more than worthy of the attention it’s been receiving from the bookish community.

The Switch is the story of Eileen Cotton, a newly-single grandmother just shy of 80, and her overworked 20-something granddaughter, Leena (Eileen) Cotton. When she’s ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after having a panic attack in the middle of a big presentation at work, Leena is in need of an escape from her busy life in the city. And after her ex-husband leaves her for another woman, Eileen Cotton finds herself wanting to get back out there and date again, but doesn’t seem to have many options in her small, out-of-the-way village.

The solution they decide on is to swap places; overachieving Leena trading in the boardrooms and business meetings of London life for Yorkshire’s Neighbourhood Watch and May Day festivities, while cooped-up Eileen tries her luck with love in the big city.

I absolutely ADORED this book! Its story manages to feel simultaneously like a classic tale and an innovative realistic and relatable retelling of a Freaky Friday-like situation in the best possible way.

The supporting cast is all well developed and unique, the leads refreshingly real. Both Eileen and Leena felt like women I could easily see myself meeting in real life; their struggles and triumphs completely believable and easy to empathize with.

Overall, this book was the perfect feel-good story I was desperately in need of. With the global climate the way it is right now, the simple pleasure of being able to escape into a good book cannot be emphasized enough, and I feel like The Switch is the ideal choice for someone looking for exactly that.

As a burned-out 20-something myself, I found Leena’s struggles to manage her work, her personal life, and her future ambitions extremely relatable, and heartbreakingly realistic. And as a reader, I found Eileen’s perspective especially refreshing to hear about. I miss my fabulous older female leads akin to Jessica Fletcher’s character from Murder She Wrote. I think it’s definitely a reflection on our society today that fewer and fewer popular books feature strong older female leads; something I would love to see change in the future.

The Switch is the perfect demonstration of how an optimistic and heartfelt older woman can make the perfect main character, and be more than a one-dimensional write-off. I loved Eileen Cotton; I sincerely wish I could have her as a confidant in my life!

Audiobook Experience

If you know me, you know I’m a HUGE audiobook fan, so it may not come as a surprise to any of you, but I absolutely loved this audiobook! The two narrators, one for Leena’s chapters and the other for Eileen’s, are incredibly talented and brought so much life to the story they were reading. If you’re looking for your next audiobook to listen to, I can’t recommend highly enough The Switch by Beth O’Leary. 💓

What are some audiobooks you’re looking forward to listening to?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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