The Flatshare Review

While dealing with hard truths and the struggling reality young people face as they first venture into the world The Flatshare is real and emotional at times yet offers a comforting, cheery and overall uplifting read centring around a unique premise.

Desperate to get away from her toxic ex boyfriend Justin and facing London’s discouraging housing situation, Tiffy Moore accepts an unusual living situation: a Flatshare with palliative care nurse Leon. Leon works nights and spends weekends with his girlfriend Kate meaning the flat is his prospective roommates at all times except 8-6 during weekdays. As Tiffy’s bubbly personality and unfortunate taste in blankets slowly start to encroach into Leon’s small flat he begins to wonder if he really thought this offer through. Slowly, the two begin to share note written jokes and left over dinners as they realise that you can’t remain a complete stranger to you flatmate forever.

The setting was perfect for this novel. As a young graduate, fresh from university and working in London I couldn’t relate more to the subtle humour and added gripes about the capital the novel presented. From business men on scooters to basically working for free in the creative industries to the struggle it is for Londoners to find a place to live the novel encapsulates everything any young twenty year old feels after university when moving or working in the capital. The setting is relatable, realistic, unique and refreshing to see as London was brought to life under O’Leary’s creative hand.

Tiffys character presented a snarky, emotive and humorous monologue that was the backbone of the Flatshare. Riddled with sarcasm and self discovery her chapters present the complex character of a young woman slowly realising she is an abuse victim, the pressures she feels as she suddenly finds herself single and the positive steps she takes like going into therapy, ever guided by her supportive friends. As her character develops throughout the novel the story arc is heartwarming and empowering, this young protagonist perfectly encompassing the realities and struggles of being a young woman in the current day in an honest, light hearted and entertaining manor.

Leon I found harder to connect with. In both his notes, narration and his life he is more guarded than Tiffy, the reader is shown little of his past besides the odd comment about his childhood with Richie and his mum, he rarely shares with the reader his feelings. His curt decisive monologue was almost jarring compared with Tiffy’s bubbly and personalised chapters. Although his chapters were less entraining they do progress the plot and his character does slowly become more outgoing as his relationship with Tiffy develops, the humour he slowly begins to demonstrate in his notes and the epilogue a testament to this.

The pacing of the novel was well done. The novel covers nearly a year in our young protagonists lives, separated into months, however the reader never feels rushed between scenes, only guided by the calendar. The timing was crucial to the novel and what made Tiffy and Leon such a good couple: the slow burn romance and time and space they give one another as they navigate their previous relationships. Furthermore the stretch the novel takes on time means the reader can truly see these protagonists developing, it is clear that Tiffy is not healed instantly from her toxic relationship with Justin and shows the reader that time does eventually heal all wounds. The care and attention the author takes to restore her young protagonist and the strength Tiffy learns to show is an encouragement to the reader as Tiffy rediscovers and falls in love with herself again.

The plot of the Flatshare centres on more than just Tiffy and Leon’s romance. Leon’s brother being in prison, a hunt for a dying man’s lost love and Tiffy launching a new book called ‘Crochet your Way’ are all central to the events of the novel. The reader receives a rounded view of Tiffy and Leon’s existence as we are introduced to their work places, social scenes and, of course, the flat they are sharing. The novel does well to show the reader a year in their lives as our protagonist grow together their character arcs and development central to the plot.

The writing style was wholly dependent on the narrator. Tiffys chapters are light and bubbly, full of her personality, worries and sarcasm. These were my favourite chapters. Meanwhile Leon’s tone felt clipped as he briefly describes what he is doing without personal pronouns and minimal embellishments. This made him a more difficult protagonist to connect with. The note passing between the two, including funny cartoons and left over tiffin, really brought the novel to life, the silly quirks and little comments adding to the humorous tone O’Leary writes in.

Having read the novel on audiobook I recommend this as a way of digesting Flatshare, however Tiffy and Leon’s characters were narrated by two separate people and it was difficult to relate Tiffy in Leon’s chapters to Tiffy herself and vice versa as the voices were different. Nevertheless the audiobook still wraps the readers attention but I’d say doesn’t add anything to the experience.

The Flatshare will have readers laughing, cheering and glaring as they witness a year in Tiffy and Leon lives. From blossoming love to an unwanted proposal broadcasts across YouTube the Flatshare encompasses everything from the bizarre to the mundane, O’Leary always throwing a good level of sarcasm and charisma on top of any situation. I recommend it to any young adults at the cusps of their careers, espcially if you work in London, as you’ll get a good dose of feels and a hearty round of relatability.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You can find more of my reviews here and also over on my goodreads.

Audiobooks on my TBR

Not going to lie, I read the title for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday and got very confused. ‘Books on my tbr I think will be five star reads’ who picks up a book thinking it might be a bit rubbish but they’ll give it a read anyway? I don’t have time for that.

So I’m going to mix up the title slightly and go through the Audiobooks I have on hold at the library and ones I just want to generally read, even if the library doesn’t have them yet.


The Testaments

1. My audiobook copy of this just came available! Having read The Handmaid’s Tale on audiobook it seemed only fair to try it’s sequel on audio, you can really get the earie atmosphere and they’re great at reading the reports in those stoic news reporter voices.


The Flat Share

2. This book has been doing the rounds lately all over social media. It’s not my normal read given it’s ya romance but I thought I’d give it a go when the audiobook popped up on Borrow Box the other day.


The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

3. This novel sounds so intriguing. A mystery where the sleuth is reliving the same day? Amazing. Also the novel actually is on my libraries audiobook collection, here’s hoping I can get round to reading it soon.


Priory of the Orange Tree

4. This novel being the beast it is is best consumed on audiobook I hear. Partly for portability and partly because it’s a bit quicker to read it on audiobook than physical book.


Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

5. I recently brought a copy of the French edition and it would be excellent in audiobook. I desperately need to improve my listening and Harry Potter is surprisingly easy to read, especially given how well I know the story.


War and Peace

6. I’ve always wanted to have read this massive classic. I feel it would be quite an achievement but, again, like Priory, the size means I’d want to have it on audio.


The Raven King

7. I’m somewhat in two minds about this. I read the others on audio and they were good but I have a physical copy of this one and sort of want to read it. It seems a shame to leave the book unread on my shelf.


On the Come Up

8. Having loved The Hate U Give On the Come Up has been on my tbr for a while. I think the audiobook would really bring the tale about rap to life and I’ve only heard positive reviews.


Educated

9. Recommended by Barack Obama this book has been on my radar for a while, ever since posters for it started appear all over the train network. I’m trying to read more autobiographies and given this one has an excellent audiobook it’s up there on my list of to read.


Song of Achilles

X. I listened to Circe on audiobook and absolutely loved it, the feeling of having the story told rather than read worked really well for the vibe the book was going for. I’m hoping to read her second book on audio too.


Let’s Compare Notes

There you have it! Ten Audiobooks on my tbr. What’s on your tbr? Any the same as mine? Any audiobook recommendations? Let me know, or leave a link, in the comments!

Circe Review [Audiobook]

The story of Circe has been retold throughout the centuries, famously depicted in Homer’s Odyssey. Madeline Miller’s interpretation is presented to the reader in this popular novel.

Circe is daughter of Helios, an undesirable nymph raised in her father’s cruel court. Desperate to not be as atrocious as her godly family she is depicted as a free spirit, helping her grandfather during his calamitous punishment from Zeus and falling in love with a selfish mortal who finds another, more beautiful nymph. But when her rage forces her to exile she is faced with the realities of the gods and horrors of mortals alike.

But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth

The novel centres entirely on Circe’s character. Her cold rage, arduous existence and struggling humanity provides the narrative to a plot woven from the Greek myths. Throughout her exile her character grows, understanding more of the gods’ personalities from mortals as she comes to realise who she is. With only fleeting glimpses of other characters who briefly touch her immortal eternity Circe’s character development is the nucleus of the tale.

Circe’s sense of integrity and remorse sets her aside from the gods she grew up around and becomes a prevalent theme throughout the novel. The freedom Circe comes to enjoy in her exile and the space she is given to grow and study magic further emphasis this theme, as she struggles to help the mortals her family so desperately want to manipulate.

It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.

In some accounts of the tale Circe’s ability to turn men into animals was akin to a temptress, leading men astray, however in this retelling it is characterized as justice. This sense of transformation persists not only when Circe turns rapists and thieves into pigs, but when Scylla becomes a monster, insinuating that their images now reflect their personalities. This theme builds up throughout the novel becoming increasingly evident to reader, foreshadowing the ending the author has chosen.

This novel draws on different historical retellings of this myth as the basis for the plot: Telegonus’s meeting with his father, Scylla’s monstrous transformation and even Odysseus’s crew being turned to pigs. The hapless presence of these events, strung together from individual stories, made the plot feel disjointed and often I struggled to engage with the wider storyline when a self contained allegory concluded.

But he was a harp with only one string, and the note it played was himself.

The combination of different retellings negatively effects the pacing also. I found it difficult to engage with each new chapter of the story when the last ended so decisively. However the story is well crafted and, given the unusual premise, the juddering pace was understandable. The events of the novel take place over hundreds of years which meant, despite the pace not feeling smooth, the plots of the novel never felt unnecessarily drawn out.

Miller’s writing style is unique and excellently shaped for this style of novel. Her allegories are precise and to the point, enabling the plot to cover such a complex and long history, while also being peppered with beautiful descriptions and intricate details. The writing radiated a story telling vibe, feeling almost akin to the Greek myths themselves, which felt appropriate given the subject.

Perhaps no parent can truly see their child. When we look we see only the mirror of our own faults.

The setting of this novel is the Greek island of Aeaea, where Circe is exiled to. It’s untamed woods, streams and rocky outcrops make it a wild paradise much like Calypso’s island in the original myths. Circe roams this wildness barefoot, highlighting both her invulnerability as a goddess and her freedom as an exile. The island is stark comparison to Circe’s father’s halls, which is beautiful in design and allows nymphs to safely roam and sunbathe openly. Despite the island being untamed and filled with wolves and lions it still feels safer to Circe than the manicured halls she grew up in.

I listened to this novel as an audiobook, which I would strongly recommend. It adds to the story telling tone of the novel and aids the reader in difficult Greek pronunciation from the original myths. The reader, Perdita Weeks, is clear and encapsulates Circe’s personality perfectly in a delicate and clear tone. Occasionally Circe would speak more softly than her companions which made the volume difficult to accurately determine, but otherwise the reading was perfect.

“Some people are like constellations that only touch the earth for a season

I would suggest Circe to adults with an interest in the Greek myths. It’s drawings on popular tales and well researched plot lines will be more enjoyable if you have a basis of the original myths and histories of the time. Graphic scenes of rape, childbirth and murder should deter younger readers.

In conclusion, Circe is a powerful and thought provoking novel. The enchanting descriptions, carefully crafted characters and detailed references to Greek mythology make it an enjoyable read, let down only by the disjointed plot and pace.

⭐⭐⭐⭐