I’ve fallen in love with reading again after several months of feeling like it was too much effort in these strange times we’re living in. But – hurrah, hurrah – I am back on form. All credit to Mike Gayle for getting me back on that horse.
I’ve just finished All the Lonely People the story of reclusive Hubert Bird whose daughter announces she’s coming back from Australia to visit him. She can’t wait to see him and meet all these friends he’s been telling her about. The problem is, Hubert has been making the friends up. Rather than tell her the truth, that he’s lonely and friendless, he embarks on a project to find himself some new friends and renew old acquaintanceships.
As we go through his present day attempts, the story of his life begins to unfold; starting with the young Hubert’s emigration from Jamaica in 1958. In cold, unwelcoming and often hostile London, Hubert finds love with Joyce, an English girl from a deeply racist family. Together they face prejudice, hardship and tragedy. In spite of it all they remain devoted to each other.
All the Lonely People is a heartwarming, uplifting story. At the same time it’s terribly sad but never overly sentimental. I particularly liked the way Hubert’s memories of his past life are intricately woven with his present life. The story didn’t end how I expected or hoped it would end but it was no less powerful because of that. I so wanted everything to slot into place and for everyone to be all right but that rarely happens in real life and Hubert Bird’s story is no fairy tale.
I haven’t read any of Mike’s books for a while. Not sure why because I always enjoy them when I do. Anyway, I liked Hubert’s story so much that I’ve just bought Half a World Away. Look out for my views on that in a later post.
In the meantime, if you’ve read All the Lonely People, what did you think of it? If you’ve read any other books that you think I’d enjoy, let me know.