Hi, everyone! Recently, Angel and I decided to do another one of our buddy reads, this time of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. As we usually do, we’ve decided to put together a discussion for you all. It’s a long one, so let’s get into it.
Please beware of spoilers!
Ely: I think I’ve got to start by asking you whether you know what to rate this yet or not? I know we’ve been talking about this the last few days and how neither of us really know what rating to give it. Here’s hoping this discussion might give us a little more clarity as to how we’re feeling about this one!
Angel: Nope. Still have no idea. I think I’m sitting at a 3/3.5 but it could be a 4. I’m really not sure and like you said I’m really hoping that talking about this with you will help me out.
E: I think I’m kind of sitting in the same range. I thought it would be a 4 right after I finished it, but the more I thought about it, the more I remembered how much of a struggle this was to get into. I know we talked about this between us extensively, but what did you think at the very start?
A: I think that is where I’m going with it as well. This took me a good 100 pages to get into and if you weren’t ahead of me and kept on telling me it was getting better. I most likely would have DNF’d it. I really struggled at the start, I just wasn’t able to connect with any of the characters or the story. I know you felt the same way at the start, was it for the same reasons? I also do want to point out that I was listening to this as an audio book.
E: Yeah, I was definitely struggling to start with and it was a real push for me to keep going. I think if we hadn’t had this post planned, I would’ve ended up putting it down. I hated most of the characters—I think the only ones I kind of liked were the really minor characters. I loved Holly and Mr Prior, two of the patients at the place Leon works. Their stories were so much more interesting to me. What about you—did you warm up to any of the characters?
A: I think we feel the same about a lot of things regarding this one. I really wanted to love it, I went in thinking I would and I was disappointed. I loved Holly, whenever she was in a scene, I had this massive smile on my face. I definitely warmed up to both Tiffy and Leon, but I didn’t love them. I liked them, but didn’t honestly care until maybe half way through. I think I had more trouble connecting Tiffy than anyone, I felt that her ‘weirdness’ was a focus of the novel and at times I think that was taken too far. Do you agree? Or am I reading into too much?
E: Isn’t that always the way though? Like I think of maybe two books that we don’t agree on. I think I warmed up to them too, but they always felt kind of flat for me? Ey, look at that kind of pun. I felt like she was trying too hard to make Tiffy seem fun and quirky, and it just didn’t work for me. With everything going on with Justin, I wanted her to take things more seriously. I have to say though—I did really enjoy the craft parts of the book. Is that weird? Is it because we’ve both been doing so much more craft-related things lately?
A: Yer we don’t have many different opinions on books, we feel the same most of the time. I was literally trying not to put that pun when I was talking last. YES! That is exactly how I feel about Tiffy. It was like every second the author wanted the reader to know that she was ‘different.’ I also agree with the Justin thing. She brushed over it a lot and it wasn’t really towards the end, and even then I felt that she was taking things that seriously. I also did enjoy the crafty things. I thought it was a nice touch. Talking about Justin though I was not expecting that. But I also liked that it was explored through the novel. I don’t read much general fiction/ ‘chick lit’ so I’m not certain if that is a common theme. But I think it was really important that it focused on emotional abuse. Do you think there needed to be trigger warnings for it? Or something more than “obsessive ex-boyfriends” in the synopsis?
E: I was definitely not expecting it to be as dark as it was in places. Like this whole thing with Justin really took me by surprise. I think talking about emotional abuse is really important, but it is also such a triggering topic for so many people. I’m just surprised I hadn’t seen anyone talk about it in the reviews I’ve seen. But on the topic of the more serious parts, I do think it added a little more depth to what otherwise was just a cutesy story, but I feel like Beth O’Leary tried to do too much at once? There’s Justin, there’s Richie, even the stuff with Kay to a point, and then the whole Mr Prior storyline. It just felt like too much to me and nothing was ever really resolved. Do you feel that?
A: Yes! I haven’t seen many people talk about all the things to do with Justin. This should not be concealed because people might think it’s a spoiler, it got very tough at times. And maybe because I was listening to it, it felt more intense. It definitely added more depth and like you said turn it from a cutesy story into something more. But I also agree, there was a lot going on throughout the whole novel and sometimes it was hard to keep track of it all. In saying that, I really enjoyed the Richie story like, I enjoyed him and a lot and it put a smile on my face. Do you feel the same way? Or am I on my own here?
E: I loved Richie. Honestly, I would’ve much preferred to have read a story about him finding love than Tiffy and Leon at most points during the book. He is truly precious. Like I said before, I also really liked the story of Mr Prior and his lost love. I would’ve quite happily read more about Tiffy and Leon trying to find Johnny. I was really sad that we didn’t get to see more of that. I felt like there was a lot in there that I would’ve preferred to have seen more of. I think that a lot of what happened just suddenly dropped off. Like I didn’t like Kay, but she just vanishes from the story completely. I wish that’s what happened with my exes, honestly.
A: I just laugh so loud right now. Richie just made the book for me. I adored this relationship with Leon so much. I love that he teased him in a brotherly way, and the way he is with Tiffy. It just made me smile a whole lot. The Mr Prior storyline was really sweet, but like you said I wish I did get more of it. It was like, okay maybe this person is it, and then we didn’t see any of it. Yes! There were so many things that started to happen and then we didn’t hear much about it again. Kay was eh for me. She wasn’t really supportive and then she left and I think that was great. I do like how friendships were explored throughout the novel. How about you?
E: I kind of thought the Mr Prior story was what the big thing was going to be. Like it was really leaning towards that and then it just got mentioned once just as a side note. I honestly hated Kay. Like there was just something about how that rubbed me the wrong way. I did and I didn’t. I loved Mo—he is the sweetest and I love how he really looks after Tiffy. Rachel and Gerty kind of annoyed me at times. I really expected Rachel to be the one feeding information to Justin, so when it turned out to be Martin I was a little shocked. That kind of felt strange to me, as much as it would’ve sucked, having Rachel be the person would’ve made more sense to me.
A: Honestly me too. I liked how Mr Prior’s story ended, but I wish we got more of the inbetween. Oh from the start I knew that something was going to go on with Kay and it wasn’t going to be great, so I wasn’t too surprised. I think that is why I liked how friendships were looked at, it showed the good and the bad. Mo just, ahh. I love that he cared so much about his friends and was there for them all. But also didn’t push Tiffy, he just helped her understand what was going on. I feel the same with Gerty and Rachel. They both had their problems, which made it hard to really enjoy them as characters. Talking about Martin, and Tiffy’s job, am I the only one that doesn’t love it when books have their protagonist work in publishing? Or am I alone in thinking this?
E: I think that was my main issue with Gerty and Rachel—I feel like they both pushed Tiffy a little, and that just made me panic. I feel like that might have had more to do with my mental state than Tiffy’s though.No, you’re definitely not. I kind of hate it when protagonists work in publishing, bookstores or as writers. It can be done well, but on the whole I just don’t enjoy it.
A: Absolutely agree in regards to Gerty and Rachel. Tiffy wasn’t able to understand anything that did happen, she hid it all away, without even knowing. And if someone finds out things like this all at once it really isn’t good for them. Phew, I’m happy I’m not alone in thinking this way. I just cringe so much. I should be able to connect with these characters so much easier, but I really can’t. In regards to the whole plot of the book. I enjoyed the concept of the flat share, I loved that they shared notes and we are able to see Tiffy and Leon’s relationship grow that way. What did you think?
E: I can’t explain why I feel that way, but I just do. I guess maybe in here it’s partly to do with the fact that Tiffy’s job does play a big role in the story. I loved the idea of the flat share and the notes they left each other was adorable. I guess this is a perfect time to ask the question—could you do it?
A: I think I agree with you, it’s not something that can be pushed aside in the story, her job has so much to do with everything going on. Could I flat share. I don’t think so. I’m home most of the time and some days I don’t leave my bed. What about you?
E: Oh definitely not. For one, you’ve seen my flat—it’s in a constant state of disarray. Secondly, just like you I’m sick way too often to be able to do something like these two. But either way, it was a fun situation to read about, even if neither of us would ever do it ourselves!
A: Exactly. After talking about this with you. I do think it’s going to be a 3.5 read for me. I enjoyed it. There were parts that I really enjoyed, but I also didn’t like a lot of things. I also think we are in the minority of a lot of people, because so many others did love it. In saying all this, I just want to make a quick note about the audiobook – I really did enjoy both readers. The audiobook first caught my eye because Carrie Hope Fletcher was one of the narrators and I thought that was done really well.
E: Oh that’s so cool, I didn’t know that. I think I’m going to go with 3.5 as well. I definitely feel like it could’ve been stronger in parts, but I’m glad we decided to read it together.
A: Me too! I always love doing this buddy reads and discussions together. Hopefully, we pick a book that we both love next time. Thank you for having me.