Oh Albert……..! I just loved reading your story.
Albert is a postman, has been all his working life. He doesn’t really know what else he would do if he didn’t deliver the post. He’s a complete introvert, avoiding his colleague’s camaraderie, looking away to prevent chat with people on his round, and just generally keeping himself to himself. It’s the only way as when he did come close to happiness when he was just a teenager it all went wrong. He’d been in love with another boy, George, but he just wasn’t strong enough then to deal with it and now another 50 years have passed.
Albert Entwistle is the most wonderful creation and it was an absolute pleasure to follow him as he learns that he must retire as a postman and he starts to realise that he missed out on so much by burying himself away. This life change prompts him to start looking for George and along the way he meets some people who change his life for the better.
Basically, Albert is the caterpillar emerging from the cocoon into a butterfly. It takes him rather a long time but at last he’s ready to fly. The characterisations in this book are a complete delight, not just Albert who is a darling, but all the other characters who play their part in his reinvention such as Nicole, a young single mum who helps Albert with his search for George and for whom Albert is a kind of surrogate grandfather. Then there’s Danny and Daniel, a gay couple who represent all the freedom that Albert never had with George. I had a soft spot for Albert’s menopausal boss, Marjorie, too.
This is a book that is full of emotion whilst still being humorous. The balance is perfect. It made me glad that we’ve moved on from the rigidity of the past. Whilst Albert still encounters some level of prejudice, he realises that things have changed and he must too.
Matt Cain has produced a beautiful book with The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle. It’s thought-provoking and moving, yet still has a light touch. It’s a truly life-affirming book that I just didn’t want to put down. I found it so tender and so uplifting with a main character that I won’t forget. It really is never too late.
Review by Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes
Published by Headline Review (27 May 2021)
Hardback, ISBN 978-1472275059