When 84-year-old Jamaican born Hubert Bird speaks weekly by phone with his daughter Rose, who is a professor in Australia, he tells her tales of his exciting life in Brixton, England, where she was raised. But he’s lying. He’s a lonely man who has isolated himself for the past five years and his only companion is his cat. When Rose tells him she is coming to visit, he has to quickly find some friends or his daughter will discover he’s been lying to her. Shifting back to when Hubert came to England, we find a fun-loving man who falls in love and marries Joyce, whose family disowns her when they learn she intends to marry a Black man. They have children and are faced with the ups and downs of life. But as the years progress, Hubert is alone and has to face the world again.
All the Lonely People was a delight. The story started a bit slow and then it grabbed my heart. Author Mike Gayle has created such a strong character in Hubert. His pain and struggles feel very real. The people he meets are quirky and engaging including Ashleigh Jones, a young single mother who is also lonely and finds a way to get through to Hubert through her persistence and exuberance. I was very moved reading the flashbacks of Hubert’s experiences in the 1950s when he came to the UK to forge a better life. This is a touching story about the need for friendship and the importance of community. This book will stay with me for a long time.
Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Hachette Book Group for the opportunity to read this sweet, moving and oftentimes funny book.
Get the Kleenex ready.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: July 13, 2021. (U.S. release)
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