Beth O'Leary on her Favourite Literary Romantic Comedies
During difficult times it is always important to try and retain a sense of humour and Beth O'Leary's wonderfully escapist novels, The Flatshare and The Switch, provide plenty of belly-laughs alongside many heartwarming romantic moments. Below, Beth selects her favourite literary comedies bursting with love and optimism.
When I think of reading romantic comedies, I think of joy. The thrill of cracking open a new rom com as I lie back on a sun lounger; the pure bliss of getting home after a tough day and reaching for a novel that I know will soon have me smiling again. When we’re broken-hearted or sick of bad dates, these books show us that love really can be swoonworthy. They make us laugh when we didn’t think we had it in us.
When I started this blog post at the start of March, the world was a very different place. Now, as the UK enters lockdown, I look back at what I’ve written above, and I’m a little surprised to realise that it doesn’t feel less relevant now: it feels truer than ever. It’s simply not possible to stay sane if we spend all our time worrying about others and reading the news and fearing for the world. We need to look after ourselves, too. Reading romance novels can whisk us to places where there are tons of handsome, kind men and kisses that give you goose-bumps and, yes, restaurants and cafes that are still open. Right now, escapism is more valuable than ever.
So whether you’re in lockdown at home or being an absolute hero and heading out to the front line, when things get a little much, consider treating yourself to one of the brilliant novels below. They’re all gems, and you never know – they might just make you smile when you didn’t know you could.
Samantha makes a career-ending mistake at work, walks out of the office and flees London. Through an absolutely ingenious comedy of errors, she ends up working as a housekeeper in a grand house in the countryside. The romance in this book will make your heart melt, and as with any Sophie Kinsella novel, you’ll struggle to put it down once you get started. It’s a masterpiece of the genre.
Writing duo Christina Lauren are my go-to when I’m feeling sad. I read this one very recently, but it rose straight to the top of my list of favourite CLo novels. The concept is brilliant in its simplicity: Olive and Ethan – arch enemies and now in-laws – end up on a package honeymoon together in Maui. Full of fierce arguments, sexual tension and slow-build romance, this rom com would be the perfect choice if you’ve had to cancel your summer holiday but still want to feel the sand between your toes.
This is a little cheeky as this one doesn’t publish until June, but it is so good it’ll be worth the wait – and don’t we all need something to look forward to at the moment? Our protagonist Andrea Tang is an incredibly successful lawyer in Singapore, but that’s not enough for her mother. She wants grandchildren, ASAP. This debut is fantastically written – so slick, so funny, so smart. Andrea is a charming bundle of contradictions: super focused but addicted to Candy Crush, incredibly driven but not at all sure what she wants. She absolutely stole my heart.
In at the Deep End by Kate Davies
This debut is smart, filthy and totally hilarious. Our protagonist Julia hasn’t had sex in three years… until she finds herself making eyes at a sexually confident lesbian over confrontational modern art. She begins to think that she’s been looking for love (and good sex) in all the wrong places. In at the Deep End touches on some dark topics, but without ever losing its ultimate sense of lightness and joy.
No author makes me laugh quite like Mhairi McFarlane – though the start of this novel is actually incredibly moving, too. Laurie’s boyfriend of eighteen years has just broken her heart, and she still has to see him every day at work. The solution? One of my absolute favourite romantic tropes: the fake romance. Laurie makes a deal to stage a relationship with Jamie, the office womaniser, and it’s not long before the line between fake and real is becoming gloriously blurred. All the characters in this book will soon feel like old friends, and the writing is so fantastic I genuinely cried with laughter, which is something I thought people only did in blurbs…
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