‘Hubert Bird is not alone in being alone.
He just needs to realise it‘
– All The Lonely People
[ Book Description ]
Life is waiting to happen to Hubert Bird. But first he has to open his front door and let it in.
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?
[ My Review ]
All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle will be published on July 23rd with Hodder & Stoughton and is described as a novel that 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.’ I have never read any of Mike Gayle’s previous books, so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to join the blog tour today with my review of this very heart-warming tale.
Hubert Bird is in his eighties, now living by himself with his cat, Puss. Hubert is very much alone but refuses to acknowledge this fact out loud. The love of his life Joyce has passed away with years and Hubert now longs for his weekly phone calls with his daughter Rose, who settled in Australia.
Hubert Bird left Jamaica as a young man, as part of the Windrush generation, for a better life in England. His prospects at home had been few so he followed in the path of his best friend Gus and arrived into London with a rose-tinted notion of what lay ahead. But life for Hubert was very challenging. He wasn’t welcomed and he spent many days turning his back on racist comments and the bigotry of those years. Hubert’s personality allowed him to deal with the hatefulness of those early days but he missed his family. He missed the sun on his back, the fresh air, his mother’s home-cooking and so much more. Determined though to succeed, Hubert worked hard and, unexpectedly, Hubert fell in love with Joyce. Their relationship was considered very inappropriate at the time and Joyce’s family refused to recognise or acknowledge Hubert but their love was strong. They married, against all the odds, and with two young children, Rose and David, their life was good.
As with any married couple they had their ups and downs over the years but their love for each other remained. But when Joyce passed away Hubert’s life altered forever.
An unexpected knock on his door, a chance connection with a new neighbour now opens up possibilities for Hubert, but is he ready for the inevitable change that will follow?
All The Lonely People is a very emotional read. Hubert Bird is a gentle, troubled and so very lonely soul. He has given up on life, given up on anything ever happening that will brighten up his day. Having lost contact with all his friends over the years, Hubert had completely cut himself off from society. For years his trips to the shops for essential supplies was his only face-to-face contact with another human being and Hubert expected no more. He was old, forgotten about and very, very lonely.
All The Lonely People highlights many important societal issues with the focus on loneliness being the main one. Communities today are a very different place with neighbours no longer even recognising each other. Anonymity is now the norm for many and our increasing dependence on the internet and social media has contributed to this. There is an inability for many to interact in the flesh, withdrawing into themselves, into their own lives. But there are also many folk out there, across all spectrums, across all age groups, that crave company, a gentle spoken word, a shared cuppa, a hug.
All The Lonely People features a wonderful cast of characters, all with their own stories to tell, all united by loneliness. Mike Gayle’s portrayal of Hubert Bird is beautifully depicted as the chapters flow between then and now. We get a glimpse into Hubert’s world as a young man with a spring in his step, with the hopes and dreams of youth. We follow his life through the years as he faced down numerous tough challenges and we celebrate the good times with him. Hubert Bird comes very much alive through Mike Gayle’s writing and it really is very easy to visualise this charming and lonely man. From a dashing youth in Jamaica, through years of verbal abuse and hatred in England, to being a loving father, a passionate husband, and now….just another forgotten member of society.
All The Lonely People is a very uplifting and inspirational tale about the goodness of people and how one simple act can change the course of someone’s life. A gentle nudge, a quiet word, a listening ear and perseverance can all lead to something bigger, something better for society at large.
All The Lonely People really is a feel-good read, one that will affect readers in many ways. Lots of different emotions are experienced but overall there is a sense of joy in this thought-provoking, delightful and very captivating read.
[ Bio ]
Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a Features Editor and agony uncle. He 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’.
Since then he has written fourteen novels, including The Man I Think I Know, selected as a World Book Night title, and Half A World Away, selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages.
Website ~ mikegayle.co.uk