This blog post is a few weeks late, but I felt there were more important things going on in the world than updating my website.
I’ve spent the first half of the month reflecting on the horrifying events we have seen in the US and the appalling displays of racism that followed peaceful protests in the UK. Looking back over these books below, it feels like a lot has happened since I read them. But the special thing about books is that they stay with you and can leave a lasting impression. These ones certainly did.
THE FLAT SHARE
By Beth O’Leary
Brief synopsis: With Tiffy in need of a cheap flat and Leon desperate for cash, these two strangers come to an unusual arrangement: Leon will live in his one-bed flat when Tiffy’s working during the day, and then she will live there when he’s on his night shifts. Despite sharing a bed, Tiffy and Leon have never met and only communicate via the notes they leave one another. But you can learn a lot about someone via Post-it notes, and it’s only a matter of time before their two lives collide.
This book was recommended by unwindandread on Instagram, who had nothing but positive words to say about it. I resisted buying it for a few weeks, keen to finish the other books in my TBR pile first, but I devoured it once I did start reading. It was an easy and enjoyable read, with lovable characters and an entertaining narrative.
Told in first person, the chapters alternate between Tiffy’s point of view and Leon’s. Both voices are vastly different. In fact, Leon’s is different to anything I’ve read before; he narrates almost in note form with a lack of pronouns, and dialogue is indicated using colons rather than speech marks. At first I found this unusual style distracting, but its charm grew on me with each chapter.
The premise of the book is fun. I loved that these two characters got to know each other through Post-it notes before meeting in person. It gave such a unique dynamic to the relationship, and I found myself excited for when they inevitably met in person and how that encounter would unfold.
A great read and one that I’m sure will be especially appreciated during lockdown when we’re stuck in our own homes!
By Sophie Kinsella
Brief synopsis: When Lexi wakes up in hospital, her last memory is of a night out with friends during which she fell over when rushing for a taxi. She’s therefore shocked to learn that it’s three years later and she’s actually in hospital following a car accident. A lot has happened in those three years: she’s the boss of her department, is married to a handsome millionaire and has a body she barely recognises. Lexi soon realises, though, that her “new” life might not be as perfect as it seems.
Sophie Kinsella is one of those authors who most people have heard of, but I think this is the first book of hers I’ve read.
I loved the concept and really sympathised with Lexi. Having a three-year gap in your memories would be hard enough, but even more so when certain things have happened during that time that have significantly changed your life. The last thing Lexi remembers is a night out with her best friends, but those same friends now hate her and she has no idea why. She’s also married to a man who she knows nothing about and who keeps “reminding” her that she no longer wears clothes in those colours and she no longer behaves in that way…
What I did love is that Kinsella really committed to this plot. I won’t give anything away about the ending, but I liked that there wasn’t a point where Lexi’s memory suddenly reappears as if by magic. She has to learn to adjust to this new life, and it’s an entertaining journey watching her do so.
THIS COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING
By Jill Mansell
Brief synopsis: During an exercise that was supposed to be therapeutic, Essie writes a no-holds-barred draft email expressing how much she hates her boyfriend’s mother. Nobody was supposed to see it, so when the email goes viral, it causes more than a few shockwaves. Soon, Essie finds her life going in a different direction to what she’d envisaged. Newly single and living in an attic flat with an eccentric old lady as a landlord, Essie can’t help but wonder if everything really does happen for a reason—especially when it comes to friendship and romance.
I’ve always been a sucker for stories that explore the “what if”s, and how your life can change based on seemingly small decisions. In Essie’s case, a decision to vent her honest thoughts (in an email that she believed would never go public) completely altered her future.
The book is full of lovable but flawed characters. It alternates between different perspectives, exploring each of their personal lives as well as their relationships with one another. I found Zillah, the elderly landlord, particularly inspirational and enjoyed seeing her relationship with Essie develop.
It’s an easy read, with lots of humour, but it has some important messages in there, too. This was the first Jill Mansell book I’ve read, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.