For pure entertainment, The Switch is a gem.
The premise? Two women at crossroads in their lives trade places – London granddaughter comes to live in her grandmother’s house in the English countryside, while the grandmother moves into her granddaughter’s London flat.
My first thought was that there would be something magical here, like a deal with a genii whereby grandmother and granddaughter switch bodies. But that would have been a far lesser book. These women, each in her own skin, take up with the other’s lives and friends, with results that are thoroughly engaging.
Ms. O’Leary’s characters are adorable. Granddaughter Lena is oh-so-humanly flawed but resilient as she copes with personal setbacks. Grandmother Eileen is just adorable as the 79-year-old whose forever husband has left her for a younger woman. But Lena and Eileen are just the start.
The aged population of the rural town where Lena finds herself are the sweetest, bringing her out her goodness and strength, charming her just as we are charmed. Back in London, Lena’s flatmates and friends take to having a septuagenarian in their midst with similar gusto.
There’s nothing ultra-deep here, just a slew of lovable characters. The dialogue is real and witty, the situations entirely believable. And the love interest? It never sinks to stereotype and is wonderfully fresh. And satisfying. The Switch is very, very satisfying.
The audiobook reading wasn’t the best – sad, given that the young woman reading the part of Lena did an outstanding acting job in the TV mini-series of “Normal People.” Whether she didn’t have the range for a job like this or simply didn’t have the time, I don’t know. Fortunately, the strength of the book lifted it well above any failing of narration.
The Switch is a feel-good book at a time when I, for one, badly needed it.