A brilliantly acted story that teaches us that it is never too late to change.
It’s never too late to change – or at least, that’s the message of Beth O’Leary’s delightful romance about a grandmother and granddaughter who decide to swap lives for two months to escape their present malaise.
With two exceptional narrators, the characters lift off the page with humour, warmth and superb characterisations. British actor Daisy Edgar-Jones is Leena, an overachieving London businesswoman who has begun to falter. After blowing an important presentation, she is forced to take a vacation and reaches out to her almost-80 year old grandmother, Eileen (Alison Steadman), whose life in the quiet Yorkshire countryside is void of romance and adventure.
The duo agree to swap homes and lives, with Eileen fulfilling her dream of city life and Tinder escapades, while Leena takes over her grandmother’s village responsibilities, from dog walking to town committees. Between them, they discover that it is never too late to start afresh and even the most awkward of situations can be overcome.
The Switch is a refreshing and often funny take on the usual body-swap trope, with the central characters swapping lives instead of bodies. The plot, while sometimes predictable, remains highly enjoyable under the deft penmanship of the author. The antics of both protagonists are recognisable but always fun. Of particular note is the author’s comfortable recognition that a person’s sexual drive and longings don’t necessarily diminish with age, just as a younger person’s intimate ambitions aren’t always as robust. There seems to be too little literature on the shelves that recognise the desires of older generations.
Both readers are spot-on with their primary characterisations, but Steadman in particular, is exceptionally good at providing distinctive characterisations to the people Eileen encounters.
The Switch is a story about finding yourself and having the courage to change. It’s a highly enjoyable listen, particularly for those seeking permission to dare something new themselves.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis