Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: General Fiction, Pensioners in the Pages
‘A heartwarming story about the power of community and human connection. Hubert Bird stole my heart’ Beth O’Leary, author of The Flat-Share and The Split
Hubert Bird is not alone in being alone.
He just needs to realise it.
In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment.
But Hubert Bird is lying.
The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul.
Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on.
Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out.
Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . .
Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?
From bestselling author Mike Gayle, All the Lonely People is by turns a funny and moving meditation on love, race, old age and friendship that will not only charm and uplift, but also remind you of the power of ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference.
“But what about all the lonely people?“
I read this charming, funny and moving story back in the summer but have never got around to reviewing it. I’m trying to finish reviews for all the books I’ve read this year and this is the first backlist review I’m posting.
This is a story about loneliness, about how you can find friendship even in the most unlikely places with people totally unlike yourself. It is also a story about giving yourself permission to live again after loss.
“And in that moment, as he attempted to stem his tears, Hubert realised something he hadn’t quite understood before now: he was lonely, really lonely and most likely had been for a very long time.”
I fell in love with Hubert Bird, the eighty-four-year-old man at the heart of the story. I challenge anyone not to. In dual timeliness we are taken through the events of his life – the struggles, heartache, love and joy – and learn how he ended up living alone, isolated, with only his cat, Puss, for company. I particularly enjoyed his sweet love story with his late wife, Joyce. Theirs was a true love that survived despite the challenges and opposition of a mixed race relationship in Sixties Britain.
His friendship with his neighbour Ashleigh and her daughter Layla in the present day was also really moving. I love these cross generational relationships and seeing what each person learns from someone so different to themselves. I loved how they slowly broke down his walls and showed him he doesn’t need to be the same age as someone to be their friend.
“Apparently loneliness is a bigger killer than cancer. Can you imagine that? There’s a bigger killer than cancer in the world and no one’s doing anything about it.”
One of my first thoughts upon reading this book was why on earth I’ve waited so long to read a book by Mike Gayle. Reading this I fell in love with his writing and the way he weaves such serious and important topics into the story without it ever feeling heavy. I was also fortunate to take part in a chat with the man himself as part of the Tasting Notes Book Club, where he charmed every one of us with his wit and intelligence. I will definitely be reading more of his stories in 2021 and have been buying them in anticipation.
All The Lonely People is a truly special book that will capture your heart and make you think. One of my favourite books of this year, this is one not to be missed.
READ. THIS. BOOK!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology Mike moved to London with ambitions of becoming a music journalist. This didn’t happen however and following a slight detour in his five-year plan he ended up as an agony uncle for teenage girls’ magazine Bliss before becoming Features Editor on the now much missed Just Seventeen. Since those early days Mike has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Cosmopolitan.
Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, which was hailed by The Independent as ‘Full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,’ and by The Times as ‘A funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic.’
To date Mike is the author of twelve novels including Mr Commitment, Turning Thirty and Wish You Were Here. His books have been translated into over thirty languages.
You can read more about Mike’s books here.
After stints in Manchester and London Mike now lives in Birmingham with his wife, kids, two sheds and a rabbit.
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