Wednesday, August 4, 2021

All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle

Oh my! Mike Gayle's new book All the Lonely People is one I'll be recommending to everyone. If you liked A Man Called Ove, you're going to want to meet Hubert Bird.

Hubert is an eighty something widower living on his own in London. His daughter in Australia does make a weekly phone call to check in with him. Hubert shares with her what he and his friends are up to, meals, activities and outings. This latest call brings unexpected news - Rose is coming home to visit. But, here's the problem - Hubert has made it all up. He has distanced himself from friends, neighbours and his community over the years. And now, his only friend is Puss the cat. What is he going to do? In four months he needs to find some friends. And it would be even better if their names were Dotty, Dennis and Harvey.

What a great premise! Loneliness truly is an issue and it's very easy for someone to fall through the cracks. Even more so in these Covid times. 

Before Hubert has thought of what to do, a new neighbour comes knocking at his door. Ash is a single mother to toddler Layla - and she too is looking for friends. "...Hubert realized something he hadn't quite understood before now: he was lonely, really lonely and most likely had been for a very long time." But that's just the beginning....

Gayle tells his story in one of my favourite methods - alternating between past and present. Hubert is a wonderfully rich character, truly someone I'd like to have a cuppa with. We meet Hubert as he emigrates to England from his native Jamaica in the late 1950's. He is full of hope for a better life and perseveres despite the racism he encounters. But it is meeting Joyce that makes life wonderful for Hubert. We're privy to their lives even as Hubert struggles to find connections in the present. Gayle has done an amazing job creating Hubert - I cared about him and felt so much empathy. And the same goes for the supporting cast - Ash is just as well drawn, as are the others who cross Hubert's path.

Gayle's writing flows so easily and kept me so engaged. (Why have I not read him before?!) I laughed, I cried (more than once), I cheered, I empathized, I got angry, I crossed my fingers and well, I loved each and every page.

All the Lonely People is hands down one of my top reads for 2021. See for yourself - read an excerpt of All the Lonely People.  And hey - say hello to your neighbour...


Vicki said...

Haven't heard of the book but you wrote a review that makes me want to go get a copy, and I hope I love it as much as you did!

Luanne said...

I hope you do love it Vicki!