I read All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle for book club. I had heard great things about it, so I really was looking forward to diving in! Read on to see what I thought.
In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship, and fulfillment. But it’s a lie. In reality, Hubert’s days are all the same, dragging on without him seeing a single soul.
Until 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. The news that his daughter is coming for a visit.
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?
Like I said in the intro, I had heard some great things about All the Lonely People going into it. My expectations were high for it to be comparable to A Man Called Ove, and on that front, it definitely delivered. It was heartwarming, endearing, and funny, while having some really real moments about how easy it is to sink into loneliness, especially as a senior.
Our protagonist, Hubert, was easy to fall for. There are a lot of flashback-type vignettes into how life was for Hubert when he first moved to England, when he got married, when he had children, and beyond. Those memories were instrumental in building his character, and they worked really well to endear me to him.
Hubert is living a peaceful, albeit lonely life when a new neighbor shows up on his doorstep in need and sets forth the whole story arc. Her name is Ashleigh, and unfortunately I had a really hard time connecting with her. Where we got so much information about Hubert and his past, Ashleigh just stayed flat for me. I still pulled for her, but she was much harder to connect with that Hubert.
Those of you reading this review who loved All the Lonely People, please don’t hate me 😅 but I actually got a little bit bored reading this book! I knew there was some sort of reveal coming, but leading up to it, I just…lost a little interest. Of course, not enough to stop reading the book! I just wanted something more to happen.
Overall, though, I really did enjoy this one. It dealt with themes of racism, addiction, grief, and (obviously) loneliness eloquently and meaningfully. The ending was pretty beautiful, too. So, although I was looking for a little more to the story, I’m still giving it 4 stars.