Cover Image: The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle

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The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Albert lives a quiet life in Northern England as a postman and likes to keep himself to himself, but when he is forced to retire he decides that he has had enough of living a secret life and with the help of some new friends begins to search for his lost love, George.

I’d seen a lot of love for this book on here but must say it took me a good few chapters to see what all the fuss was about.

However it soon became clear that this was going to be a joyful, uplifting read with so many loveable characters who teach us that it’s never to late for new beginnings.
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Having read all the glowing, gushing 5 stars reviews I can only conclude that I’m the only person who just didn’t enjoy this book.

I really, really, really wanted to love and adore this book.  The subject matter is something very close and personal to me so I started to read the story of Albert Entwistle.

Initially I was engaged and sympathetic to Albert and his situation having hidden his sexuality for 50 years and cut himself off from life, existing as a postman with no friends or family or support network around him.

When he is told he will be made to take involuntary retirement within a few months, upon his 65th birthday he decides to find his one true love, George who he hasn’t seen for 50 years.

So far, so good… but then we are introduced to the other characters, and this is where the book fell down for me because it became every conceivable cliche and stereotypical person possible.  I’m not sure if it’s possible to be too WOKE but I felt my eyes roll several times when a new character was introduced.

I just a love story between George and Albert and I ended up with too many unnecessary characters who diluted the story for me.
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As a shy, gay Northern man, this book really resonated with me. Gorgeous story about finding community and allowing yourself to chase possibilities. One of my favourite books.
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A well written, gentle and emotional book set in the north of England. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read it.
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I had read so many 5 star reviews for Albert Entwhistle and was worried that it might not be able to live up to my expectations but what an absolute joy it was to read, streaming tears of joy and happiness

We meet Albert as he's nearing retirement and has nothing to look forward to - his world is small and he has kept himself shut away from everybody all his life; his only relationship has been a tender and loving gay relationship as a teenager but he hasn't ever spoken about it or accepted it himself. 

A change of heart means that Albert starts opening up about his sexuality and building friendships with people around him, and he quickly finds that what he was most afraid of was all in his head.

Beautifully told, some lovely characters and a lot of love in there
Thanks so much to Netgalley for the chance to read it
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After just finishing sissy, I started this book!  Wow!  Approaching the age of 65 and facing mandatory retirement from his job as a postie, Albert has reached a crossroads in his life. For years he has lived a lie, denying even to himself who he truly is. But times have changed.  Being gay is no longer a crime. And so he sets out to track down George, the love of his life.

Albert’s story is beautifully told, in his own voice and in dual timelines, as he goes about his quest and reminisces about the past. His journey is poignant and at times desperately sad. But it is also uplifting and joyous. One of my favourite reads so far of 2021!
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I'm not crying, you're crying! 
We really need more books about gay elders finding happiness and acceptance. The characters are immediately endearing and although i'm not usually one for extremely sweet feel-good novels, the world is terrible right now and we all need some hope in our lives. Big recommend for anyone who feels out of place and needs some encouragement to be themselves and live their best life, now matter how late it seems
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This was a really sweet read, I love Matt Cain's books, they're always wonderful reads and he really has his finger on the pulse of what's going on. His first two novels were proper summer reads whereas for his latest forays, they've been a bit more serious, a bit more 'book club'ish and I actually participated in the crowd-funding for his novel The Madonna of Bolton. So I was enormously proud when I saw Headline had scooped up Albert Entwistle, and bought my copy the day of release.

I'll be honest, Albert Entwistle wasn't everything I'd expected; it was a bit slower, a bit more sedate and, if I'm being brutally honest, a bit depressing. Which, actually, was the point of the novel. Albert Entwistle had gotten to the grand-old age of 64, with his only company after his Mam died being his cat, Gracie. And he's just been told that on his next birthday, he has to retire due to Royal Mail's rules. He's devastated, obviously. Being a postman is his life and he's never had a partner or anyone close to him, but the threat of retirement jigs Albert into life and he's determined to find George, his long lost love from his teens.

This novel genuinely made me sad. The whole idea that being gay in the 70s was akin to committing a crime, that people had to hide who they were, just makes me sad. And what makes it even worse is that 20 years later although things have progressed massively, there is still that corner of the population who frown upon being gay, who spout nonsense and hatred, clearly because they have issues with themselves and for no other reason.

I just felt so sad that Albert was almost allergic to the idea of himself being gay, that it was pounded into him that it was wrong and despicable and disgusting and I genuinely didn't know that it was THAT bad way back when. I thought it was bad enough now the way people go on, but clearly I had no idea.

This novel is also hopeful though, because Albert decides at the age of 64 to just say fuck it, and go and find his happiness. Even if he wasn't to find George, I liked that Albert was willing to put himself out there in the name of love. That was genuinely lovely.

His friendship with Nicole was also amazing, I adore relationships that have extreme age gaps - this one was 40+ years and Nicole and Albert were like chalk and cheese - Nicole, a single mum to Reenie, black, 19 compared to Albert, single all his life, gay, and 64. But that's what makes life beautiful because friendships like that can flourish given the opportunity and I loved how Nicole egged Albert on to keep looking for George and to not give up and all the rest.

Honestly, Albert's journey was lovely. Very emotional, very touching and it definitely goes to show that you can't ever - ever - give up on love, because if it's meant to be, it's meant to be.
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I received a copy of this book to review from Netgalley and all opinions are my own.
A really sweet and heartwarming read that had me hooked from page one. There is a diverse range of characters and the story is fascinating to follow. The writing is good but at times feels a bit staid as it spells everything out when sometimes it doesn't need to be. 
Overall, a good read.
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"'Honestly, you can’t say owt these days. It’s all gay rights this, Gay Pride that. But what about us straight people, that’s what I want to know? I mean, why isn’t there a Straight Pride?’
Maybe because straight people have never been made to feel ashamed of who they are. Maybe because it’s never been illegal to be straight.”

Albert Entwistle is a postman. It is one of the few things everyone knows about him and one of the few he is comfortable with them knowing because he has a secret. But soon it will be his 65th birthday and he will be forced to retire.

With no friends and nothing to look forward to, he realises it's finally time to be honest about who he is. And he must find the courage to look for George, the man whom, many years ago, he lost - but has never forgotten…

I picked this up in my post-covid recovery period after a month-long reading gap and, once I had enough strength to read continuously, finished it in two sittings.

Albert's awkwardness around people endears him to you. He avoids people in close proximity but something about Nicole-the teen mother raising a toddler by herself-prompts him to approach her.

I loved getting to know Albert and his friends especially Nicole and Marjorie who play a substantial role in Albert's journey. I adored how Albert's new-found confidence drew warmth into his heart.

The sincerity in the telling of his story highlights the challenges for the LGBTQ+ community. The optimism it offers is especially encouraging.

Upbeat and witty, with its share of heart-breaking moments, this charming love story is an inspiration to follow your heart, free of conditions.

This ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Headline Books.
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This is such a wonderfully uplifting book with real depth. We meet Albert just as he is about to retire from his job as a postman. A job he loves, and has done all of his life, but a job that he slowly realises he's been doing as a substitute for having a real life. He is closed off to his colleagues and community but this book is his journey to opening himself up to real human connection. It's the story of being ashamed of who you are, because of society and family experiences, but then realising that things change and that there are so many people out there who will love you for who you are.

The characterisation is fantastic - I really wanted to hug Albert on many occasions. He is surrounded by a cast of bright and beautiful people who help him to realise his true self. I particularly loved his friendship with Nicole, a young single mum who also goes on her own journey of self realisation and acceptance.

It really reminded me of Mike Gayle's books, in particular I felt that Albert was so much like Hubert in All The Lonely People.

This was such a surprise and joy to read. I cannot wait to read more of Matt Cain's writing.
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Although I enjoyed this gentle read about Albert Entwistle, from the rave reviews I was expecting more.  However, I did enjoy it and was obviously very well researched and written.
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Many thanks to Netgalley, Headline and Matt Cain for my copy. Oh gosh this book is absolutely wonderful; I adored all the characters and the way the various friendships developed, and the beautiful yet heartbreaking storyline which was so cleverly written. Albert, Nicole and the many others will steal your heart. I adored this gorgeous, uplifting book; highly recommended.
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🎶Someday, somewhere we’ll find a new way of living.🎶

The opening line of this song from the musical West Side story embodies the sentiment of this enchanting novel perfectly. It’s a joyous celebration of how much we’ve progressed as a society in terms of acceptance, tolerance and inclusivity towards the more marginalised groups amongst us. Say “how do” to lovable postman Albert Entwhistle, a man well placed to teach us all a thing or two about love and rediscovering the joys in life. On his own journey of self discovery he embraces the fact that whatever your age or circumstances it’s never too late to change. Why wait for tomorrow when today could be the start of something new and  wonderful? Matt Cain turns the feel good factor up to maximum strength, emotionally nourishing the reader with his tale of a man who has spent the best years of his life afraid to show his real identity. 

Delivering the post is all Albert’s ever known, apart from caring for his poorly and ungrateful mam until her death left him entirely alone, with only Gracie the cat and Coronation Street to keep him company. An intensely private individual who shies away from unwanted attention, dodging any awkward questions from work colleagues such as neanderthal Jack Brew, Albert’s heart and mind are stuck firmly in the past. There’s good reason for this, as periodic flashbacks reveal  but Albert doesn’t like to dwell too long on memories and a secret that fill him with shame and fear. Growing up in the 1970’s  is a difficult era for a young lad who knows he is different from the majority of his mates but love is impervious to class, race or gender so Albert finds himself in an impossible situation loving someone in a way society deems immoral, shameful and disgusting. Backed up by archaic laws that are only just beginning to become less prohibitive Albert feels he has no choice but to hide his true self away and that’s where he’s stayed, mourning a love that couldn’t survive public scrutiny. How can he possibly love himself when his own father has turned so violently against him? Now with the news that his enforced retirement is only three months away Albert dreads his uncertain future. How will he fill his days unloved with no friends and no purpose? Albert’s been walking in the shadow of loneliness for far too long but with the dawning of a new year comes a desire for reinvention and a search for ‘the one who got away.’ From the hustle and the bustle of the sorting office headed by the oversharing menopausal Marjorie to a whistle stop tour of northern towns outside of Albert’s home in Toddington, Matt Cain allows this endearing character to begin his metamorphosis. Oh how uplifting this is to witness! From a shy, retiring socially awkward and dour man Albert gradually transforms himself into a more adventurous, engaging social butterfly, widening his horizons and striking up unexpected friendships with certain residents on his postal route, in particular single mum Nicole and her daughter Reenie and the equally lonely Edith who’s simply desperate for conversation. For a hugely heartwarming and life affirming read join Albert and his new friends as he bravely takes a leap of faith and begins the process of reconnecting with the local community and the wider world. Perhaps opening up and revealing his innermost thoughts and feelings isn’t quite as scary as he imagined!! 

This novel simply pulsates with love, kindness, and hope, restoring your faith in humanity. Alternately funny and sad this is a narrative crammed with lucky coincidences, warmth, humour and compassion. Matt Cain has delivered a first class read guaranteed to put a smile on your face and make your heart swell with joy and gladness. I lost my heart to Albert ten times over, wanting to squeeze him, cuddle him (not that he’d have appreciated that!) and cheer him on as he finds a simple smile, and a friendly hello can lead to so much more. The whole cast of characters compliment Albert in ways that allow him an unprecedented spot in the limelight with their individual personalities enhancing the mainly positive vibe and prompting much mirth. Matt Cain has made it ridiculously easy to wish Albert every success in his search for his lost love whilst making it incredibly hard when the time arrives to bid a final farewell. This is without a doubt exactly the kind of book I devour with relish, greedily gobbling up every word and still wanting more! 

Dance, sing, hum (or whistle!) a merry tune as you join Albert Entwhistle on his road to rediscovering his true self. This novel is your fast track to happiness, an instant mood booster and I wholeheartedly give my stamp of approval to Matt Cain and his charming  imaginary postman. Highly recommended. 

My thanks as always to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read in exchange for an honest review
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Albert Entwistle is a postman and his job is his life. So when, nearing 65, he receives a letter with an information that Royal Mail’s policy is to let people retire at this age – no exceptions – he knows his life is going to be very lonely. Keeping himself to himself, he’s been living only with his cat Gracie since his mother died 18 years ago. Albert was in love once, when he was young, but it was in those times when it was illegal to be guy. Moreover, his father, a policeman, was homophobic, voicing his opinions on „perverts“ and „people like that“. In all those times, after his father realised Albert is „one of them“ and gave him an ultimatum, he has hidden his sexuality – and his real self. But perhaps now it’s time to come out? And to find his long – lost love, George? Assisted by a young single mum Nicole, who has her own battles to fight, Albert sets on a quest – will he succeed? Or is it too late?

Albert is a brilliant character, from the beginning to the end. Approaching the age of 65 and the mandatory retirement from his job, he truly is at crossroads, not knowing what to do with his life. And then he decides – and I am sure it needed so much courage from him! – to face the truth, to admit, to try and be happy again. He tells us his story, personally, reminiscing about the past – though I must admit that it was the present that has absolutely captured my attention, present that he started to share with another great character, the single mum Nicole. It was so lovely to see Albert opening up and making friends, accepting himself – there was so much more to him than met the eye. I hated to see him so sad, so burdened by his own memories, by his shame of betrying George and his trust but then, as he was slowly stepping out of his comfort zones, I wanted to give him a standing ovation.
Nicole is another character that has to fight against stereotypes. Misjudged by the community, she turns out to be a great friend to Albert – their friendship was great and felt realistic. Thanks to Nicole, I think, because she was open enough, but also thanks to Albert, who has finally summoned the nerve for step so huge for him as asking for help.
There was a lovely bunch of background characters in this book as well. They not only enriched Albert’s story, but they all had their own stories to tell and that added tons of depth to the novel. The writing style was flawless and run smoothly, enriched with lightness and gentle humour.

The author has ticked off all the boxes that are like focal points in today’s society and in the end we’ve got a good read, but too politically correct in my opinion. It isn’t bad, of course it isn’t, but it’s like an act of getting on the right side of the readers? I’m not sure and I’m also not criticising, but perhaps this is why I liked it, but not whole – heartedly. Also, novels featuring older main characters seem to be a thing now, don’t you think, and almost always guarantee a success. And it’s not a wonder, as the characters, when rightly pictured, with their rich lives and experience, grow on the readers and draw empathy – and it was the case here, because I can guarantee you’re going to fall for Albert immediately and you’ll be wanting to give him a standing ovation as he faces challenge after challenge and champions them with flying colours.

„The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle“ is a feel – good story, an emotional journey through times, poignant and uplifting at the same time. It is filled with secrets and regrets, love and hate and friendship. On the surface it’s an easy, light – hearted read but deep down it’s a protest against prejudice and stereotyping, but still – heart – warming and charming. I really liked it and will be recommending it left and right!
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I’d like to thank Headline and Rosie Margesson for sending me a proof of this book.

All I can say is wow! How can I even begin to convey to you how incredible this book was? What Matt Cain has written is a pure gem and I am so pleased that I discovered Albert and his story.

Whilst reading this I felt so many emotions. Initially I was so sad for Albert and his lonely existence. The conversations he had with himself and Gracie showed he had so much insight to offer the world if only he would let himself be vulnerable. I cried for him and the life he could of lived, when he went into the locked room and found some memories from years ago. Then my sadness turned to hope as he embarked on his journey.

I felt so proud of him when he started to show his true colours but I could also understand his reservations about putting himself out in the world. I wanted to hold his hand as he took these brave steps and comfort him when he struggled. Luckily he had Nicole who was the perfect companion. She took Albert under her wing and helped him to soar into the world and land on his feet.

The mystery surrounding what happened to George and Albert was sprinkled throughout the book as Albert recalls memories from his past. During these moments it was clear to anyone just how much they loved each other and how happy they could be together. When their final moments were revealed I felt so angry and shocked. Matt Cain has opened my eyes to how life was for many people of the gay community in the 60’s and 70’s and I must admit I am slightly embarrassed at how little I knew. I had such admiration for George in those chapters for being brave enough to be who he was and stand up for what he believed in but I could also understand Albert’s reasons too. Had I been in his shoes I honestly don’t know what I would of done.

Whilst Albert and his story was incredible I couldn’t help but fall in love with all the other characters as well. Matt Cain delivered a cast of characters who all had their flaws and were very relatable. We had Nicole, the single mum who is a person of colour, trying to make something of her life and juggle a new relationship. The there’s Marjorie trying to send her terminally ill grandson on holiday and remain optimistic about her fundraising efforts. Dan and Daniel, were the new gay couple to arrive to the community and face the numerous questions about their lifestyle, and that’s just the top of the iceberg of characters. All the emotions I felt when reading this weren’t just for Albert but for all his new found friends .

To finish my review I am going to borrow a few words from Matt Cain that sum up exactly how I felt about this story…

“And if I love him a little bit more today, I’ll love him a whole lot more tomorrow.”
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I can see why some people really enjoy this but it's not for me. It was very formulaic with way too many clichés and stereotypes, and the way the characters spoke felt like a Disney movie at times.

Parts I enjoyed were the exploration of tension within the gay community between those who were out in the 1960s when it was illegal for young men to be in homosexual relationships, and those who were not. Albert was a really endearing character who at times reminded me a little of Eleanor Oliphant and Linus from The House in the Cerulean Sea.

It really did put a smile on my face at points but I don't feel overall it was my cup of tea. As much as Albert was a great character I felt the plot was very contrived.

Thank you @netgalley for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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Matt Cain has written a cracking, amusing and touching tale in The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle. Albert Entwistle is coming up to his retirement as a postman and is wondering what his future holds. Very much a loner who likes to keep to himself he is anxious about how he will occupy his time. He also has a secret but realises that now could be the time for him to be honest about who he really is...

The author's superb character creation and development is second to none. Albert, a cat lover of his beloved pet, Gracie has recently lost his mother who he looked after and has spent the last eighteen years living alone. But Albert is determined to make some friends and confront his past and as his emotions start to resurface, there is no stopping him. Along the way, the reader meets several people including Nicole and her daughter, Reenie, George, Marjorie and Edith to name only a few. Nicole is a single mother, trying her best to improve her own situation and Edith is a lady on his postal delivery round.

This was an impactful story that was funny, sad and exceptionally moving. All of the author's characters gave the book great dimension, and many of them were people I started to wish I knew personally. In a story dating back to the 1970s and spanning decades, I loved accompanying Albert on his journey of self-discovery. An uplifting, delightful, though occasionally harsh and bitter read topped with romance. The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is beautifully written and a 2021 favourite.

I read The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle in staves with other Pigeonholers as part of a group. A special thank you to Headline, Matt Cain, NetGalley and The Pigeonhole for a complimentary copy of this novel at my request. This review is my unbiased opinion.
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I totally adored this story of Albert and his quest to find his first (only) love. 

It was a pretty emotional ride along his road, both sad and funny and ultimately rather uplifting. 

At times it felt like we were in an extended episode of Coronation Street as a lot of the characters were very broadly drawn and a wee stereotypical, but I was totally engrossed in Albert’s story both as a young man and as a soon-to-be retiree. 

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.
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A really sweet tale of Albert Entwistle who has lived a secluded life since being scared in his teens, faced with a retirement he doesn't want, he decides this could be an opportunity for him to change. I really loved this book, Albert is such a sweet relatable character, a gentle postman, who just does his job, then heads home to his cat, until one awful Christmas life forces a change upon him. I enjoyed the way that Albert changed it was totally believable, the friendships he made were really sweet, especially with young Nicole. I liked the message that the more he was himself the more people liked him. This book is also a great book about the history of gay men, Albert had realised he was gay just after homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967 but he was still under age, also as the book highlights more raids took place in the 70's. It was lovely to have a story that featured a 65 year old, going on adventures and coming out, it really is never too late. A joyous wonderful book. 

With thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
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