Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle.
All The Lonely People was published on 23rd July 2020 by Hodder & Stoughton.
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?
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A big thank you to Jenny Platt and the publisher for issuing me with my review copy of the book and for inviting me onto the blog tour.
Although I have read some of Mike Gayle’s previous books, this one has got to be my new favourite. Days after I had finished, I was still thinking about it and its wonderful characters.
We follow Hubert Bird, an 84 year old widow, as he is telling his beloved daughter Rose about his week and the plans he has with his friends. His daughter is a Professor and currently works in Australia so Hubert looks forward to their weekly phone call where they keep each other up to date with their busy lives. It is only when he finishes his call that we come to realise that Hubert has been lying. He is fact quite lonely and rarely makes any contact with another human for weeks on end. During one of his calls, his daughter surprises him to tell him she is coming home for 6 weeks to see him. Suddenly Hubert realises his lies are to be exposed and sets about trying to make his lies come to life.
His next door neighbour Ashleigh is a single mum to a young daughter and has recently moved to the block of flats opposite Hubert’s house, from Wales. When she is desperate for childcare so she can attend a job interview, she finds herself on Hubert’s doorstep, asking for help. This is the turning point for Hubert and despite him used to being on his own, he helps.
I absolutely adored this book and felt that Mike Gayle has written the friendship between Hubert and Ashleigh beautifully. They come into each others lives at the perfect time and despite their differences help each other in a time where they felt helpless. Ashleigh’s positivity shines on the pages and you as the reader, as well as Hubert, are swept along for the wonderful ride.
We also come to know Hubert as a young man as he became part of the Windrush generation who came to the UK from Jamaica in the hope of a better life. Despite the horrific racism he experiences on a daily basis he is determined to stay and create a better life despite having doubts if he is strong enough. When he meets Joyce, a white woman, he knows he has made the right choice as he has found the woman who he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Despite the ignorance her family show them both, they marry and have 2 children.
I really enjoyed how the author interweaves the two time lines of Hubert and Joyce and then later on just Hubert as an older man. I felt this really made Hubert seem ‘real’ for me and made me warm to him even more.
I’m so glad I had the chance to read this beautiful book, I’m still thinking about it now and picturing who I would have playing the wonderful characters we come close to if this happened to ever be made into a film! I definitely felt all the emotions possible but glad that I ended the book with a smile…
Highly recommended from me.
To follow the blog tour…
About the Author
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 thirteen novels including Mr Commitment, Turning Thirty and The Man I Think I Know. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages.
You can find him online at mikegayle.co.uk and on Twitter @mikegayle.