Friday 28 April 2023

Book ~ "All the Lonely People" (2020) Mike Gayle

From Goodreads ~ 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?

Hubert is an 82-year-old widower who lives alone in England and doesn't go out much. In his weekly calls with his daughter, Rose, who lives in Australia, he has made up a wonderful active life so she doesn't worry. That works well until Rose tells him that she will be coming for a visit in six weeks ... now he has to hustle to create the life Rose thinks he has.

Hubert tries joining a seniors activity club but doesn't feel comfortable there. When Ashleigh, a friendly young single mother from Wales, moves in next door, he begrudgingly becomes her friend. Ashleigh feels there are too many lonely people in their community so convinces Hubert to help her start an initiative to get everyone together so no one is lonely.

This story is written in third person perspective usually with a focus on Hubert. The story bounces back and forth from present day to the past (the chapters are labeled), starting in 1957 when Hubert moved from Jamaica to England, hoping for a better life but encountering a lot of prejudice. Not long after he arrived, he met and fell in love with Joyce, a white co-worker. Despite her family disowning her when they discover Hubert is Black, Hubert and Joyce marry and started a family.

It's been a while since I've read a Mike Gayle book and I liked this one. There was a weird twist towards the end, though. I can see why it was there but I found it a bit farfetched and unbelievable.

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