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 this "warm, funny" novel (Good Housekeeping).
In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Birdpaints 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?
British author Gayle (Half a World Away) returns with a winning tale of a lonely 82-year-old widower. Hubert Bird, a Black immigrant from Jamaica living in south London, gradually lost touch with all of his friends after an unspecified traumatic event five years earlier. When single mother Ashleigh introduces herself as his new neighbor, he shoos her away to take a call from his daughter Rose, whom he's lied to about having a trio of pals so as not to worry her. When Rose says she's planning a visit, he scrambles to find friends to fool her. So begins Gayle's engaging narrative, enriched by flashbacks from 1950s England, when he faced hardships and racism and fell for the white Joyce Pierce while working at a department store. After Joyce gets pregnant and they plan to marry, her racist family disowns her. Decades later, Hubert's son battles drug addiction and Joyce faces early-onset dementia. In the present, with Hubert still at a loss for friends, he babysits for Ashleigh and agrees to be part of her "Campaign to End Loneliness in Bromley," which ends up going viral with Hubert as its spokesperson. While a late plot twist feels destabilizing, Gayle finds many endearing moments in Hubert and Ashleigh's search for friendship and community. Readers will be touched.