Books

Review | 'The Flatshare'

Rom-com has a serious side too

Tiffy Moore has broken up with her boyfriend again, but this time it looks like it’s going to stick. (He came home with another woman. Then he announced his engagement. Those were pretty big clues.) Desperate, heartbroken and broke, Tiffy answers an ad for a flatmate. The price is right, but the arrangement is odd — Leon, her new roommate, works nights as an oncology nurse and spends weekends away. Tiffy can live there, sleep in the same bed, but perhaps never meet him.

This kind of relationship is what Post-it notes were invented for. The notes the two begin leaving each other slowly grow from all-business (“Would you mind putting the toilet seat down please?”) to longer, friendlier and confessional. When the flatmates do finally meet, it’s in a sexy, hilarious and deeply embarrassing way. Such fun.

Beth O’Leary’s “The Flatshare” springs from a classic rom-com setup — two strangers thrown together under awkward and yet intimate circumstances. But her book, while definitely romantic and comedic, has an underlying seriousness that gives the story heft. Her themes of ambition, domestic violence, thwarted justice, childhood cancer and closeted homosexuality turn this engaging summer read into a thought-provoking work of fiction.

But fun. Definitely fun.

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