Review: The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary


Title: The Road Trip

Author: Beth O’Leary

Published: 29th April 2021, Quercus

Status: Read April 2021 courtesy Hachette Australia

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My Thoughts:

The Road Trip is Beth O’Leary’s third entertaining romcom novel, following her success with The Flatshare and The Switch.

Addie, her sister Deb and rideshare passenger, Rodney, have just begun the eight hour drive from Chichester to Scotland to attend a close friend’s wedding when they are rear ended by a Mercedes. The driver is Addie’s ex-boyfriend, Dylan, accompanied by his best friend, Marcus, heading to the same event. With the Mercedes out of action, Addie reluctantly offers the pair a ride in Deb’s Mini Cooper.

Unfolding from the alternating perspectives of Addie and Dylan in the ‘Now’ and the ‘Then’, the physically uncomfortable conditions created by five adults crammed into Deb’s car are almost secondary to the emotionally fraught atmosphere caused by the tumultuous history between Addie and Dylan in particular. I thought the narrative structure worked well to reveal to what happened between them in the past, and their current status with one another.

The road trip itself is beset by a chain of mishaps, from endless traffic (it’s a Bank Holiday weekend) to a breakdown, punctuated by Deb’s need to pump breastmilk, country music singalongs, and Marcus’s less obnoxious tantrums, providing plenty of humour. There’s always an edge of tension though as Addie and Dylan try to navigate their unexpected reunion, complicated by the presence of Marcus who played a significant role in their breakup.

O’Leary’s characters are interesting, all with their own lighthearted quirks, but many of them also struggle with serious issues such as clinical depression, alcoholism, addiction, sexual assault, and difficult family dynamics, making this story a little darker than her previous novels. And while there is a happy ever after for Addie and Dylan, as befitting the romance genre, it’s more mature than a fairytale ending.

Funny and engaging with a bit of edge, I enjoyed The Road Trip.

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Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound I HiveUK

Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

 

Title: The Switch

Author: Beth O’Leary

Published: 28th April 2020, Quercus

Status: Read April 2020 courtesy Hachette/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

Beth O’Leary’s debut novel The Flatshare garnered the author international popularity and readers have been anxiously awaiting her next book. I can’t compare the two, but I can say that The Switch is a delightful read. In fact I finished it with a tear in my eye because The Switch has the sort of heartwarming ending that we all crave at times.

When Leena Cotton experiences a panic attack in the middle of an important meeting she expects she will be fired, instead her employer insists she takes two months leave. Lost without work as a buffer for her grief over her sister’s recent death from cancer, Leena decides to visit her beloved grandmother in the Yorkshire countryside.

Seventy-nine year old Eileen is ready to welcome her granddaughter with open arms. Truth be told the house has seemed empty since her husband ran away with a dance instructor, and candidates for overnight ‘company’ are thin on the ground in Hamleigh-in-Harksdale.

It takes just a few days for Leena to recognise that her grandmother also needs a change of scenery and so Leena impulsively proposes a switch. Leena will stay at Clearwater Cottage and take on Eileen’s tasks that includes organising the village May Day Festival, attending Neighbourhood Watch meetings, ferrying Bingo players, and watching over her mother, while Eileen will stay in Leena’s London share flat, explore the city and take advantage of the wider dating pool.

Unfolding from the alternating perspectives of Leena and Eileen, the two women initially struggle to find their feet in their new environments but the Cotton women are willing to take a few risks. I delighted in Eileen’s online dating adventures, her ability to befriend strangers, and her determination to establish the The Silver Shoreditchers Social Club. Eileen is smart, sassy and no-nonsense, and the kind of granny we all need. Leena is a little more fragile than her grandmother, still deeply grieving her sister’s death, her anger and guilt has been directed at her mother, and herself. Throwing herself into community affairs is a distraction but eventually she’s forced to face her anxiety, and some difficult truths about her life.

I loved the humour in The Switch which came from both the Cotton women and the supporting cast. Perhaps the elderly characters are a little stereotypical but they are thoroughly entertaining. The Switch doesn’t just offer laughs though, O’Leary touches on some sensitive issues including stress, grief, infidelity, loneliness and domestic violence. There is also a romance (or three) and Leena and Eileen ultimately prove to be strong and resilient women.

Charming, entertaining and uplifting I really enjoyed reading The Switch, Ihope you do too.

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Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound