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Episode 17 – Author’s choice

Beth O’Leary

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Joining me for this episode’s online chat is special guest all the way from the UK and the author of one of my favourite books of 2019, Beth O’Leary!

Beth is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose debut novel The Flatshare has been translated into more than 30 languages. She wrote The Flatshare on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher and now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.

Beth’s second novel is The Switch and was released in April this year, 2020, and in some very exciting news Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin, have acquired the film rights so we’ll be seeing it on our screens one day and I cannot wait!

Beth spoke with me about the difficult nature of a second book, especially when the first book is a bestseller, and about how she generates her ideas. She also chose some fabulous books and delicious pairings to share.

The pairings: 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” So begins Jane Austen’s classic novel of manners and mores in early-nineteenth-century England. As the Bennets prepare their five grown daughters to enter into society, each shows personality traits that illuminate their future prospects as wives. Jane, the oldest, is the most demure and traditional, and Lydia, the youngest, the most headstrong and impulsive. Attention centers on haughty second-born Elizabeth, and her blossoming relationship with the dashing but aloof Fitzwilliam Darcy. Adversaries at first in the endless rounds of balls, parties, and social gatherings, they soon develop a grudging respect for one another that blossoms into romance when each comes to appreciate the tender feelings that course beneath the veneer of their propriety and reserve.

Beth chose a light, yet filling and traditionally English Victoria Sponge with a refreshing Pimms and lemonade to drink to add a fruity sharpness that cuts through the cream.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked ‘Where do you see yourself?’  at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan. But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future. After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

Beth didn’t want to give anything away but thought that a delicious cupcake with a surprise centre would work well given the twist in this book, but then you’d need a glass of white wine too to sip away as you read to the end of this assured, crisp and classy story! 

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I actually have already paired The Flatshare once in the second episode I did with a wonderful brewery called La Sirene which does wild fermented ales and they have a light, bright, refreshing sour beer called the Saisonette which when I tasted it made me think of The Flatshare!

For a different take I thought that as Tiffy is a bit of a baker and I recently made a lemon blueberry yoghurt cake, that such a sweetly tart cake with pops of blue sour deliciousness would also work really well with The Flatshare, and the blue would also match the cover.

I was thinking of what to pair with The Switch, Leena and Eileen do like a glass of wine now and then, but I was on a roll with the gorgeous book covers and The Switch is so beautifully pink that I thought of a Pink Lady cocktail. Made from Gin, Grenadine, Egg White and perhaps with lemon zest or a maraschino cherry for garnish, it’s been around for awhile, like Eileen, it is dry and gently tart and has that lovely pink blush colour from the grenadine, but is not as sweet as it looks which I think matches this book perfectly, it definitely matches Eileen and Leena!


This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.