Reviews of All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

All the Lonely People

by Mike Gayle

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle X
All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle
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  • Published:
    Aug 2022, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

If you loved A Man Called Ove, then prepare to be delighted as Jamaican immigrant Hubert rediscovers the world he'd turned his back on in this "warm, funny" novel (Good Housekeeping).

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?

First published in July 2021. Paperback reprint August 2022

1
NOW

Moments before Hubert met Ashleigh for the first time, he had been settled in his favorite armchair, Puss curled up on his lap, waiting for Rose to call. When the doorbell rang he gave a tut of annoyance, wagering it was one of those damn courier people who were always trying to make him take in parcels for his neighbors.

"Would you mind accepting this for number sixty-three?" they would ask.

"Yes, me mind a great deal!" he would snap. "Now clear off!" And then he would slam the door shut in their faces.

As he shifted Puss from his lap and stood up to answer the door, Hubert muttered angrily to himself.

"Parcels, parcels, parcels! All day, every day, for people who are never in to receive the damn things! If people want them things so much why them no just buy it from the shops like everybody else?"

With words of scathing condemnation loaded and ready to fire, Hubert unlocked the front door and flung it open only to discover that the person before him wasn't anything like he...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Ashley makes a huge leap of faith by setting out on her own to raise her daughter. What kind of strength does it take to create the type of life you want while raising a child?
  2. Hubert didn't allow the color of his skin to dictate who he loved or the life he wanted to live. Have you ever defied someone else's expectations or prejudices to pursue what makes you happy?
  3. Discuss the moments of obvious/subtle racism Hubert had to overcome throughout the story. What can non-immigrants be aware of/do to help immigrants transition to life in a new country?
  4. Gus's descent into loneliness took on a dramatically different form than Hubert's. While Hubert's home still provided him the comforts he needed, Gus's degraded and left him living in...
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Here are some of the comments posted about All the Lonely People.
You can see the full discussion here.


All the Lonely People overflows with poignant moments. Pick one that was the saddest or heartbreaking for you.
When Herbert admitted the death of his daughter, I realized how loneliness is not only sad for people but can also be classified mental illness and it took a village to treat him and make him well. I realized the depth of his pain. - gingiew

Are there things non-immigrants can be aware of or do today to help immigrants transition to life in a new country?
As a bilingual person I help many Hispanic immigrants in my community with translations at doctor's offices and at their children's parent teacher conferences. The immigrants I help have a very limited knowledge of English. Of course not... - viquig

Ashley makes a leap of faith by setting out on her own to raise her daughter. What hardships did she encounter? What kind of strength does it take to create the type of life you want while raising a child?
She was all alone in an unfamiliar place. She was a single mom with no support system or job initially. Child care seemed to be one of her biggest hardships, which is how she first met Hubert. Ashley was an outgoing social person, so she craved ... - margiec

Did the plot twist about Hubert's daughter surprise you?
I was COMPLETELY shocked. I had been assuming something terrible had happened with Hubert's son, since he was having regular conversations with his daughter and was totally panicked about her coming to visit and finding out his social life was ... - ErinJ

Gus’s descent into loneliness took on a dramatically different form than Hubert's. Why do you think Gus found himself living like he did?
Loneliness is loneliness, how one deal’s with loneliness determines how one’s life will be led. - kathleenq

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Gayle states in a Q&A that he set out to write a book about "how someone's life fills and then empties again," and the chapters set in the past accomplish that goal remarkably well. These feel realistic, as Hubert faces hurdles he must overcome to prosper in his adopted country; his life is good by many standards but far from idyllic. Along the way, the author tackles complex themes such as racism, drug abuse and grief, among others, and the unexpected depth here is what transforms the book from a light-but-forgettable read into a satisfying and memorable one. There are a few moments some may find a little manipulative — plot points inserted more to tug on readers' heartstrings than because they make sense — but I doubt most will mind. The book is compulsively readable and its characters so loveable it's easy to gloss over its minor flaws...continued

Full Review (596 words).

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(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Christian Science Monitor
Gayle shares [characters'] indignation, sadness, and anger in straightforward, unadorned prose. The simplicity is effective ... A late-story plot twist adds both tragedy and momentum to the tale, morphing it into a page-turner. The cinematic conclusion feels completely earned, leaving characters jubilant and forever changed.

Good Housekeeping
This thoughtful novel is warm, funny and gives you all the feels.

Booklist
With a winning main character, this absolutely heartwarming story unfolds with just enough surprises and heft to keep readers engaged. A natural choice for fans of Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand or any of the myriad recent books about cranky men finding late-in-life joy.

Kirkus Reviews
Gayle's book works for what it is, and that's a testimony to the author's charm and unfeigned sweetness—the reader can tell he cares a lot about Hubert, and his compassion is contagious. A little manipulative and a lot sentimental but sweet and charming enough that some readers won't mind.

Publishers Weekly
A winning tale…Readers will be touched.

Author Blurb Beth O'Leary, author of The Flat-Share
A heartwarming story about the power of community and human connection. Hubert Bird stole my heart.

Author Blurb Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author
I'm such a fan of Mike's, and think this is absolutely his best yet. The characters are so warm and so real, and the issues of loneliness and displacement are so very topical and important.

Author Blurb Jenny Colgan, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner
Mike Gayle is on World Beating Form with All the Lonely People. It's the right book at the right time and you're going to love it.

Author Blurb Ruth Hogan, author of The Keeper of Lost Things
Hubert Bird is a gentle hero and I loved him. A book that is perfect for the times we live in, but also one to treasure for many years to come.

Author Blurb Tracy Rees, author of Amy Snow
A tremendous read, as always. A funny, warm, heartbreaking, wonderful story about family and friendship and the power of caring in an imperfect world. Hubert, Ash & the gang are unforgettable characters.

Reader Reviews

Bhumi Ghutke

Amazing story
Romantic Novelists’ Association award-winner Gayle delights ... With a winning main character, this absolutely heartwarming story unfolds with just enough surprises and heft to keep readers engaged. A natural choice for fans of Helen Simonson’s Major...   Read More
Betty Taylor

I absolutely loved it!
I absolutely loved this book! Loaded with wonderful characters that made me laugh, made me cry, and made me feel lots of emotions. Hubert Bird, a native Jamaican, moved to England when he was a young man in search of employment. He faced ...   Read More
Shilpa kaushik

Loneliness- interesting story
All the lonely people is about Mr. Hubert Bird who is in his 80s or 90s. He is living alone in the uk in London. and he is been lying to his daughter and saying that he is doing all of these things and keeping up this life that he actually is not and...   Read More
Lynne Z

More later
I loved this book in so many ways and will write more when the discussion is posted.

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Beyond the Book

The Windrush Generation

HMT Empire Windrush The protagonist of Mike Gayle's novel All the Lonely People is a member of the "Windrush generation," which refers to people from the Caribbean who emigrated to the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1971.

Facing a severe labor shortage after World War II, the British government began encouraging mass immigration from citizens of its colonies. This position was bolstered by the British Nationality Act of 1948, which combined the citizenship of Britain and its colonies and permitted these groups to enter the United Kingdom.

The HMT Empire Windrush ("HMT" stands for Hired Military Transport) arrived in Jamaica to pick up servicemen who were on leave during the time when these pro-immigration policies were under discussion, and an ...

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