Thursday 23 July 2020

Review: All The Lonely People by 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?

Review: Ah this book was so beautiful and so timely. I don't know why I am surprised because Mike Gayle never disappoints when it comes to representing raw, real life in beautiful ways in his novels. I loved meeting Hubert Bird and getting an insight into his long and storied life. 

This book confronts loneliness and its various forms head on right from the word go and continues to look at what that means to different people and its various effects throughout the book. It covers not only how loneliness can set in when you live on your own, but loneliness brought on through loss of a loved on and also the very real loneliness that occurs when you move to another country. Hubert Bird was part of the Windrush immigrants to the UK and so experiences what it was like to sometimes be the only black person in a room. His wife then goes on to experience the loneliness of motherhood, especially when your baby is judged to be something less by some people. I love the way loneliness is fully explored in this novel in ways I never thought possible. 

Of course there is an attempt to combat that loneliness and that comes in the form of neighbor Ashleigh. Ashley is one of those people that once she sets her mind to it, nothing can stand in her way. She is determined to be involved in Hubert's life and there really isn't anything he can do about it. Her quest extends beyond Hubert though and then we get to see how a community can pull together when it has the right people at the helm-just so beautiful. Ashleigh is the perfect sidekick for Hubert and I love their interaction.

The structure of this book is also wonderful. We have parallel time lines, a then and now. The now pretty much remains the same but then then parts of the story takes us back to Hubert's roots and shows how his life in the UK came together. Through this structure, Mike Gayle explores hot topics such as racism, grief, homelessness, addiction and dementia in a sensitive and timely manner. This all feeds into the theme of loneliness and every moments of Hubert's past helps us as readers get to know him in the present and really drives the plot forwards. 

As much as loneliness is a depressing topic to think about, it is dealt with incredibly sensitively in this book and also it is explored so fully that I defy anyone not to feel uplifted by reading Hubert's story. This book is so wonderful and definitely couldn't have come along at a more appropriate moment in time. I have and will continue to recommend all of Mike Gayle's novels but this new one is a game changer for certain. Highly recommend. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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