Hello everyone, welcome to today’s bookish video. I am going to be sharing what I learned about effective communication from 2 books I finished on Audible; The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary and The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes. I wanted to do a comparison between these two authors because The Flatshare was meant be “The romcom of the year” and Beth O’Leary is supposedly the new ‘Jojo Moyes’. But when I was deciding on which Jojo Moyes book to get I went for The Horse Dancer hoping it would be refreshing, instead of the boy meets girl cliche love story in typical romance and also because I used to be obsessed with horses when I was younger.
Personally I thought The Flatshare was okay nothing spectacular, however I did enjoy the book because it showed how good communication is essential to making a relationship work; and that it does not have to be conventional just as long as you can get the support you need.
The two main characters come together after Tiffy has broken up with her on again off boyfriend and is desperate to leave his apartment as she felt that this breakup started to show her things about his personality that she didn’t see before. Due to her low wages and the expensive rent prices of London; she is lead into accepting an unusually flat share arrangement. The plan was that Tiffy and her new roommate Leon will share the same bed; however they will never be in the flat at the same time as Leon works nights. The plan is they are never supposed to meet.
After a while the two start using Post-it Notes to leave messages to each other, at first it was things like I made extra cake have a slice and what day does the recycling bin go out; very casual housekeeping. However, soon these Post-it Notes kinda turn into little love letters as the two started communicating more frequently as well as sharing more about each others lives.
I found it interesting that they were able to get so comfortable with each other with no in real life interaction. Then I thought maybe it’s because there was no expectations or fear of being hurt by the other person that allowed this to happen. Their odd flat share setup actually created trust and stability; they believed they won’t meet because of their schedules, but they still felt close because the flat was a place they shared and they could see each others traces in.
While in this new flat Tiffy continues to analyse her past relationship with her ex boyfriend, learning to be honest about what actually happened in the relationship and understanding why it was not healthy. She is able to do this with the help of her best friends as well as through therapy. Showing that in person interaction is still important, as well as having a close circle of people to share your struggles with can help you grow as talking out about your problems is a powerful tool to set yourself free.
Though I didn’t find the book that romantic, because I watch K-dramas so my standards are high; I did like that Beth O’Leary showed that it’s okay to ask for help and to be supported when going through difficulties.
Now in the next book the characters are not able to communicate well through message or talking and I found it frustrating because problems could have been fixed earlier if the characters where more honest in asking for help.
The Horse Dancer is a story about 14 year old Sarah who’s grandfather has had a stroke and ends up in the fostering system after Natasha the other main character meets her shopping lifting. Due to the fact that Natasha was a lawyer and represented children she felt she couldn’t leave Sarah alone after the incident. Natasha takes Sarah into her home because she thought it would ease the tension with her soon to be ex-husband. However, Natasha soon realises that looking after a teenager is actually difficult, especially one who keeps a lot of secrets to herself.
Sarah has a horse named Boo and she tries to keep him a secret because of fear of what social services would do to him. Sarah is determined to protect her horse desperately and will stop at nothing to try to achieve her dream of getting to France with her horse including lying and stealing when things breakdown even more.
Natasha and her husband argued none stop, it was a constant cycle of blaming each other. Their marriage fell apart due to fertilely struggles and the couple not being able to communicate and cope in a healthy way from the loss. Natasha starts feeling insecure comparing herself to younger women. While her husband also had his issues and distances himself. So this soon to be ex couple can’t stand each other and they make it very clear. The arguing being tedious representing when love goes bad from not understanding each others needs.
Sarah starts struggling in silence as the book goes on, she endangered herself because she was too scared to trust. I felt a little sad and frustrated because some of the problems she got herself into could have been avoided if she had just been honest. When she would make her bad decision she kept justifying it by saying she had no other choice and that she had to do it. And so because of this we watch how a good girl starts to fall. I understand from Sarah’s perspective that the instability of foster care and her grandfather in hospital was a heavy burden; so she was closed off. But then there was also a point when a sleazy man tried to take advantage of her to repay what he claimed she owed him for the horse; and Sarah didn’t tell anyone what had almost happened to her. She was not able to ask them for help and it was such a shame to see things spiral down.
The frustrating thing was that though Natasha and her husband were terrible to each other, they sincerely were willing to do so much for Sarah; and paying off some debt for the horse would not have been a problem. But she could not see that she was in a safe place because the last time she decided to trust it back fired. These characters got themselves in an exhausting problem, because their past hurt kept festering in them; and it blinded their vision and they were not able to let down their guard.
Now I understand it can be really hard for young people as well as adults to open up; I myself have got into situations because I didn’t communicate or ask for help when I was struggling.
A way I try to help myself is sharing how I am really feeling with my close friends; I try to challenge myself to not respond with I’m fine or I’m okay, to people who I know care for me. I still don’t do it perfectly or even near as much as I should but I’m getting better at it.
Another thing I wanted to recommend is therapy for people like me and the characters in the book who needed a safe space to process their thoughts and feelings. I’ve had Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as well as Talking Therapy. However you don’t need to be diagnosed to seek out therapy, if you are feeling overwhelmed or simply just want a second opinion with navigating life try it.
Visit mind.org.uk for more information to finding the right resource for yourself.
And also try my challenge: do not respond with I’m fine or I’m okay, to people in your close circle.
And so we have come to the end of this book-ish video. I am so happy to have experienced these books on Audible. If you are interested, sign up for a 30days trial and get one book for free. I have linked my books down below; let me know in the comments if you have read any of these or have anything else to add about some of the points I mentioned. If you enjoyed this video remember to like and subscribe so I know what to keep posting. Thank you so much for watching. Byeeeee