“There is only one bed” trope – The straightforward way to get the desired pairing into bed together. But O’Leary takes the trope one further. What if there only is one bed, and you never see the other person sharing it?
I am someone who does not usually read romantic novels, and so my expectations were low. I was fully expecting a swooning love story with overexaggerated expressions of love, and a sprinkle of cringe here and there, like most romance novels have.
But to my surprise, The Flatshare like a very pleasant walk down a cobbled street with quirky tea rooms, book shops and flower stalls all around you. The story draws you in and you can easily finish it in one sitting. This doesn’t make the book bad at all, more of a none-stop entertaining page-turner.
The premise of the story is really interesting, one you imagine reading on a Buzzfeed article and wonder if it’s really true or not.
Tiffy and Leon share a flat, and share a bed, but they’ve never met.
Leon needs a roommate, he sleeps through the day works the night shift at a hospital. Tiffy works all day in publishing and has free run of the flat for the rest of the time. The two only communicate through texts and post-stick-notes
The unusual setting brings to life a very curious aspect about people.
“It’s weird how easily you can get to know someone from the traces they leave behind.”
O’Leary dives into this detail, through calming and curious writings. From no physical interactions, Tiffy and Leon learn a lot about each other. The foods they like, how clean or messy they are, their unique interior designs and more.
As you can imagine through small interactions, a sweet tender love grows between them, which only increases when they eventually meet face-to-face.
A key aspect that really should be admired by O’Leary is how she writes her characters. Tiffy is a quirky dresser who works in publishing and Leon is an awkward night-shifter worker who avoids friendships and social activities. But debut author O’Leary takes these characters out of their cliches and brings them to life with humour, real provoking emotions and likeable personalities. The chapters switch from the two characters POV, which really helps readers get a full picture of what the main couple are like. It creates organic and believable chemistry between the two, which really adds to the enjoyment of reading a love story.
Spoiler Territory – You’ve been warned!
What’s also clever from her writing is how she addresses difficult subject matters in a sensitive matter, without diluting the severity of them.
Both Tiffy and Leon are dealing with their own personal issues before they meet and together help each other overcome them. Leon struggles with a trial surrounding his brother’s arrest, over a charge he pleads not guilty. Tiffy has finally left her manipulative and abusive boyfriend, but still, he continues to linger not far away.
Tiffy and Leon end up showing the healthy dynamics of a friendship to a relationship, without removing any of the romantic comedy elements and sexual tension you would usually find in a rom-com style novel.
This book is full of sweet, heartwarming moments, as well as drama, eccentric side characters (with Tiffy’s co-workers and friends and Leon’s imprisoned brother). It is a delightful and fun story.
I found myself missing the characters as soon as I finished the book. I cannot wait to read more from O’Leary.
Prishant is a creative writer and storyteller based in London UK. She is passionate about LGBT issues, film, TV and fashion. When she is not writing, you can find her collecting notebooks too perfect to use, watching horror movies and discovering random historical facts for fun. She also has two cats who rule her life.