Hubert Bird lives a lonely and isolated life, has for years, but you couldn’t tell that from the sunny updates he provides his daughter Rose in their weekly phone calls. He lives in the London borough of Bromley and she’s a professor with a wonderful career in Melbourne, Australia. He even maintains a notebook to keep up with his lies about his busy life full of friends and activities. But now with Rose’s planned visit in six weeks, Hubert has to somehow create the life he’s sold to his daughter to make certain she doesn’t feel the need to uproot her life and return home to take care of him.
My goodness, how I loved this story! It’s told in two timelines, then & now, beginning with Hubert’s immigration from Jamaica to England in the late 1950s. We learn of the pivotal moments in his life, including his marriage to Joyce Pierce, a white woman who sacrifices her own family in loving him. He’s a widower in the now who reluctantly forms a friendship with a new neighbor, a young single mother named Ashleigh. Together they create an initiative to end loneliness in their borough that grows organically and so quickly that Hubert is suddenly faced with having the life he’d fabricated for his daughter.
The story is rich with layers and complex characters, especially so as it moves through the timelines to present day. I loved his relationship with Joyce and how they created a beautiful life despite rampant racism in the early years. There’s an amazing twist at the end that I never saw coming, throwing everything into a different perspective. It just made a great story even more outstanding. I listened to the book and the narrator is a gem! He gave life to Hubert, mastering that Jamaican lilt while juggling other British accents. His storytelling skills are excellent, making the words lift from the pages. This will rank as one of my top five favorites for the year, both story and narration. If you’re looking for something to fill your heart with hope and triumph, this is that story.
- Release Date: July 13, 2021
- Narrator: Ben Onwukwe
- Audio Length: 12 hours, 21 minutes
- Publisher: Hachette Audio
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(Thanks to Libro.fm and Hachette Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)