Thursday 30 July 2020

BLOG TOUR: All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle

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.

What did I think?

What a lovely story; anyone who doesn't love Hubert Bird must have a heart of stone.  Although I experienced a range of emotions whilst reading All the Lonely People, I read most of it with a smile on my face.  Hubert is a fantastic character and he really doesn't know how special he is; he truly is one in a million.

With his daughter in Australia and his son who knows where, widower Hubert thinks he's quite content being alone.  All he wants is a quiet life with his adopted cat but to stop his daughter Rose from worrying about him he pretends to attend an over 60's group at the local community centre.  Every week when she calls home, Hubert regales Rose with stories of his new found (imaginary) friends when all the time he has never left the house.  It started out as just a little lie with the best intentions but when Rose calls to say she is coming home, Hubert has to find some real friends pretty sharpish.

As we follow Hubert's attempts to make friends, we are also given flashbacks to the 1950's when he was a young man starting a new life in England, leaving his friends and family back home in Jamaica.  The racism is blatant in the 1950's and 60's and it's so sad to read what people had to put up with simply because of the colour of their skin.  On the positive side, it's heartening to see how far we've come in a relatively short space of time, although there's still a long way to go yet.

I loved the community spirit in the book and the knowledge that friends can be any age, colour or sex.  Hubert meeting his new neighbour, young single mother Ashleigh, is the catalyst that starts a chain reaction which ensures that Hubert's life will never be the same again.  As the pair become friends they embark on a campaign to end loneliness in the town of Bromley, but as their fame grows Hubert worries that the lies he has told Rose will be exposed before he has the chance to explain to her face to face.

I laughed and cried, I was shocked and surprised but I loved every minute of All the Lonely People.  It's beautifully heartwarming and exudes charm from every page.  Completely captivating, All the Lonely People is a very special book and one I won't forget in a hurry.  I cannot recommended it highly enough.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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