The switch by Beth O'Leary
Quercus 2020. ISBN: 9781787475007.
(Age: Adult) Leena has a job she loves, lives in a trendy flat in Shoreditch, London, which she shares with flatmates Martha, Yaz and Fitz. But since the death from cancer of her sister, Carla, she has been having panic attacks and making mistakes at work. She feels horror and shame when her boss insists she take two months leave. Leena is close to her 79 year old grandmother Eileen who lives in Hamleigh-in-Harkdale. When Leena visits her she finds a list of unattached men in the small village; Eileen is looking for a new relationship since husband Wade left her. Leena suggests an online dating service but there are not many local entries for the older age group. London offers many more and from this is born the idea of swapping places while Leena is on leave. Eileen agrees, partly for a bit of fun but also to break down the barriers between Leena and her mum Marian, who lives nearby. She has also been struggling to cope since Carla's death and mother and daughter have barely spoken. So as Eileen embraces London life Leena sets out to fill her place in everything from Neighbourhood Watch meetings, dog walking, visiting Marian and organising the local May festival.
As we follow the narrative, alternating between the point of view of overachiever Leena and pragmatic Eileen the value of a change of perspective becomes apparent. The characters are funny and engaging and the comedy lightens the messages about caring for one another, the importance of family, acknowledging grief and of course finding love. A light read for women.