The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle
The ‘most uplifting’ and ‘heart-warming’ PERFECT COMFORT LISTEN
by Matt Cain
Narrated by Layton Williams
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Pub Date 27 May 2021 | Archive Date 1 Jun 2022
Headline Audio, Headline Review
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO START YOUR LIFE'S BIG ADVENTURE . . .
Albert Entwistle was a postman. It was one of the few things everyone knew about him. And it was one of the few things he was comfortable with people knowing.
64-year-old Albert Entwistle has been a postie in a quiet town in Northern England for all his life, living alone since the death of his mam 18 years ago. He keeps himself to himself. He always has. But he's just learned he'll be forced to retire at his next birthday. With no friends and nothing to look forward to, the lonely future he faces terrifies him. He realises it's finally time to be honest about who he is. He must learn to ask for what he wants. And he must find the courage to look for George, the man that, many years ago, he lost - but has never forgotten . . .
Narrated by Layton Williams, join Albert as he sets out to find the long-lost love of his life, and has an unforgettable and completely life-affirming adventure on the way . . . This is a love story the likes of which you have never read before!
This audiobook contains exclusive interviews by Matt Cain with gay men on their experiences growing up through the 1950s to in the 1970s and the 1980s.
(P)2021 Headline Publishing Group Limited
'Wonderful. Written with such a good heart, filled with joy and strength and optimism . . . inventive and fun but most importantly, true.' RUSSELL T. DAVIES
'I loved it! Really heart-warming and joyful, but also so poignant. I cannot recommend this book highly enough' LORRAINE KELLY
'A rollicking love story' IAN McKELLEN
'Albert is such an endearing character - flawed, funny and awkward, but completely relatable. A wonderfully warm story that completely drew me in' RUTH HOGAN
'Prepare to fall in love with Albert Entwistle! Touching and tender' S. J. WATSON
'Albert is delightful and charming, and the book is too' JONATHAN HARVEY
'A wonderful old-fashioned romance, with a serious side, a tender autumn love story that will have every reader cheering on Albert from the sidelines. An utter treat.' KATE MOSSE
|DURATION||12 Hours, 31 Minutes|
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 32 members
What a wonderfully unique book this is. Albert Entwistle is a postman, who is feeling lonely, and he suffers from anxiety. He is going to retire soon from the post office, and this brings him sadness, as he does not want to leave his job. His cat dies, which made me cry, and it set Albert back even more, as he was very close to his cat. He is also hurting from missing his departed Mum, as well as the love of his life, a man called George, who he was with many years ago. After finding some notes from George that his Mum kept for him, he sets off to find George and see where life takes him.
I loved this book, and all of the characters that Albert worked with. They all had their own stories to tell, and I loved the way they helped Albert to come out of his shell, and be courageous. This is a great, easy to read book, which is very enjoyable, uplifting and heartwarming, and I highly recommend it.
The audiobook narrator was perfect for the job, and he had the perfect voice and accent to make the story sound exactly as it should.
Many thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In a Nutshell: A sweet story that goes somewhat predictably but still hits the mark. The audiobook is a wonderful choice to get to know Albert Entwistle.
64 year old Albert has been a postman all his adult life. And that’s all that people know about him. He is a loner, not because he hates people but he is afraid of them and of theirs discovering his big secret. But when he receives an official letter saying he has to retire from his job on his 65th birthday, Albert is left questioning his life choices. With no family, no friends and no future, is he destined to spend the rest of his life alone? Albert decides that it high time to take charge of the situation and being making some courageous changes in his life, including a search for his long lost love, George.
The story is written in a limited third person pov of Albert and one of his young neighbours, single mom Nicole, who is trying hard to get her life back on track.
Where the book worked for me:
❤ I had assumed Albert to be another Ove. Thankfully, this is not yet another geriatric curmudgeon story, a trope that has become quite common after the success of ‘A Man Called Ove’. Albert has a sweet, introverted personality and comes across as a man who has been closeted all his life, and not just about his sexuality. His love for his cat Gracy and his brave attempts at getting to know his neighbours and co-workers won my heart. (As an introvert myself, I understand how difficult it is to take the first step in talking with strangers and continuing a conversation.)
❤ The rest of the characters in the book are also quite interesting, though not much layered. They all come in predictable patterns but are carved in a way as to make many of them interesting. Nicole is the best of the other characters, what with her shyness considered snootiness and her single Black mom status marking her as a potential failure.
❤ The book incorporates several factual elements of the discrimination faced by gay boys during the 60s and 70s in the UK. I was impressed with the level of detail the author had incorporated in the story but the bonus section of the audiobook reveals the extent of his research. It seems to be an accurate rendition of the emotional upheavals these boys must have undergone just because they were gay. (A part of the homosexual representation felt over-the-top and stereotypical to me, but the author is a well-known commentator on LGBT+ issues and a former journalist. So I will trust his portrayal than my “feelings” which are more based on the rubbish LGBT+ representation in mass media. This book has been enlightening in that regard.)
❤ The book focusses on the importance of having the right kind of people in your life. It covers a whole gamut of relationships, right from parents (supportive as well as toxic), friends, neighbours, office colleagues, married couples, dating couples (both heterosexual and homosexual),… each relationship is given a fair bit of weightage and adds to the appeal of the story.
❤ There are too many characters but don't worry about memorising them. Each person is sketched well enough for you to move on with the flow and still recall them whenever they come up in the plot.
❤ The audiobook was one big factor in my enjoyment of this book. (More on this below.)
Where the book could have worked better for me:
💔 The story is quite predictable, with only a couple of surprises along the way. Then again, I should have expected this, considering it is contemporary general fiction.
💔 I wish the secondary characters had been more layered than one-dimensional.
💔 It tries too hard to incorporate varied social commentary in the narrative, with topics ranging from Afro hair to climate change. I understand the need for topics but the core issue here was huge enough without treating the book as a chance to send more meaningful messages for societal betterment.
💔 The character change in both Nicole and Albert is almost abrupt. Both were introverted/reserved at the start but transition almost overnight into friendly and conversational, neither of which is an easy skill for an introvert and takes a long time to develop.
⚠ I don’t think most readers will see this as a negative, but to me, it was a minor red flag. There is one line in the story that is an important part of Albert’s past relationship with George and comes up 2-3 times: “I love you a little bit more than yesterday and a little bit less than tomorrow.” It is cheesily cute but it is not original. The quote is quite common and is a translated excerpt of a French poem by Rosemonde Gérard, ‘Chaque jour je t'aime davantage, aujourd'hui plus qu'hier, et bien moins que demain.” I don’t know how I feel about an author taking another writer’s line and including it almost verbatim in their work without due credit.
The audiobook experience:
The audiobook clocks at 12.5 hours and is narrated by Layton Williams. I was so impressed by his narration and his accent that I Googled him and ended up open-mouthed in astonishment! What perfect casting for this audiobook! I couldn’t figure out his accent but I simply loved it, though it took me a bit of time initially to understand him. His voice is so beautiful and so suited to everyone in the cast. The subtle nuances of his character-voicing ensure that we never get confused about which character is speaking (and this is in a book with quite a lot of characters.) I especially loved the way he voiced Marjorie when she was going through one of her hot flushes. 😂😂 10/10 for his narration.
A great narrator can make an audiobook, and this one certainly benefited from its narrator. But I also want to commend its production quality. There are special audio effects for phone call conversations, such that the speaker on the other end sounds as if he/she is actually on the phone with us. There is a megaphone kind of effect for tannoy announcements. There is a musical interlude each time Alfred goes into flashback about George. And it’s not even the same music each time but changes depending on the mood of the flashback. So many glimpses into the past and a complicated present timeline with multiple characters, yet there’s never a moment of confusion. All credit to the audiobook producer.
The icing on the cake? There is a 30 minute audio-exclusive material where author Matt Cain reveals his research methodology and some interview excerpts with gay men who lived through the 50s/60s/70s. These are quite emotional and eye-opening.
All in all, despite the somewhat formulaic approach, the book offers plenty of insightful content and is a pretty good reading experience. If I had read it, I might have rated it a 3.25-3.5. But the audiobook definitely enhanced my experience and I’ll go with a 4 star. The Netgalley tagline calls this “the most uplifting and ‘heart-warming PERFECT COMFORT LISTEN”, and I agree.
My thanks to Headline Audio and NetGalley for the ALC of “The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the audiobook.
Albert is a postman - he is adorable! He is a loner and tends to keep himself to himself. He is retiring shortly and lives alone with his pet cat, Gracie who he dotes on. And then he decides he is going to search for his one true love - George - who he hasn’t set eyes on for over 50 years. With the help of the fabulous Nicole they set out to achieve their goal and what a splendid story - very uplifting, incredibly emotional and delightfully heartwarming! This audiobook is narrated by Layton Williams and wow! What a great listen it is!! The author Matt Cain is also the writer of The Madonna of Bolton so I will be checking that one out too! Thank you to Headline Audio and to Netgalley for the chance to review this book.
Albert Entwistle was a postman. It was one of the few things everyone knew about him. And it was one of the few things he was comfortable with people knowing.
64-year-old Albert Entwistle has been a postie in a quiet town in Northern England for all his life, living alone since the death of his mam 18 years ago. He keeps himself to himself. He always has. But he's just learned he'll be forced to retire at his next birthday. With no friends and nothing to look forward to, the lonely future he faces terrifies him. He realises it's finally time to be honest about who he is. He must learn to ask for what he wants. And he must find the courage to look for George, the man that, many years ago, he lost - but has never forgotten.
I received a free Advanced Reading Copy via NetGalley in exchange for a complete and honest review. The narration has good pace and flow,and the narrators voices seemed right for the characters they were portraying. I listened to this as an audio book and felt the narrators really helped bring the story to life. I particularly enjoyed the storytelling.
This is such a wonderfully deep and engaging book that just envelopes you. Works great as an audiobook
I listened to this on audiobook. Loved the narrator he really brought Albert and the rest of the characters to life. There were some great characters in this book.
Told over different timelines from present day to his younger days in the 60's where he fell in love and lost the love of his life. Albert sets off with the hope of finding George but Albert found himself in a world where he was led to believe he was a dirty secret.
He always felt like an outsider but by opening up to a few people he started to belong to not just one community but two. Its funny and also really emotional but heartwarming and above all quite positive.
Its hard to think of a time where gay men were treated so badly. At the end there are accounts from men of a similar age to Albert who open up and tell their stories of growing up and its just heartbreaking what they endured.
The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is a gem of a book. When I first started listening I wasn't too sure how much I would like it, but as it progressed I really got into it. Albert is 64, lives with his cat and has been a postman all his working life. He thrives on his familiar routines and avoiding contact with others as much as possible. When he finds out he must take compulsory retirement at 65 he is devastated and this, in combination with other events, makes him rethink his life. The story switches between Albert's present life and events from 50 years ago, and the circumstances of his difficult past emerge, highlighting why he lives the way his does today. We also get to know the other characters in the book, particularly Nicole, a young single parent. I really enjoyed the character development and I definitely became invested in their stories. Albert's story was both fun and moving, and particularly poignant during the second half of the book. There are strong themes of family and friendships, tolerance and ignorance, At the start of the book I felt like the point was being laboured about Albert wanting go and hide away from other people. I understand why this was done now though and I am really glad I persisted. I do feel that Albert's transformation and increased confidence was rather too fast and smooth, but not enough to detract from the overall joy of the book. The threads of the story for the characters were very neatly tied up, so one does need to somewhat suspend belief, but that aside I did love it. I found the story incredibly moving and the overall messages of kindness and connection are all really important. I think Layton Williams was the perfect choice to read the book, he really brought the characters to life and the pacing was perfect. The extra content following the book in which the author interviewed gay men who lived through a similar time to Albert was very moving. It was valuable in realising that although Albert is fictional, there are so many people who went through (and of course many still do) prejudice, persecution and violence because of whom they loved. Many thanks to the author, Netgalley and Headline audio for the gifted audiobook in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5
I’ve just finished this roller coaster ride of emotions and it exceeded all my expectations. I completed this delightful story within two days as I was so enthralled by the characters and the journey that they were on that I couldn’t wait to find out where the story took them.
It’s a very diverse storyline that deals with the fears of growing up and finding out and accepting who we are. Even though for some of us it may take longer than others, It gives us the hope that it is never too late to change and bring happiness into our lives, I don’t want to say too much as I never like to give away storylines with my reviews but this really tugs on the heart strings but with moments of happy euphoria.
As a therapist I can understand that this book gives a very important and positive message. There are actually certain clients I would recommend it to.
I have only ever given one other book a five star review but this is now my second. I also think it would make a fantastic film adaptation. We can all do with a bit of Albert Entwistle in our lives and I certainly know who I will be dressing up as for the next world book day (orders postman outfit). Well done Matt Cain!
This book put me through the ringer emotionally, its so uplifting as a story of long lost love and heartbreak. Its also devastating in equal measure as some of the stuff the characters went through is horrendous. The dual timeline makes this a beautiful book that demonstrates that LGBT acceptance has changed so much. A must read powerful love story #netgalley #thesecretlifeofalbertentwistle #LGBT #love #heartbreak
I loved this book the first time of reading and getting to listen to the audiobook was just fabulous.
Oh Albert, he stole my heart, you know how I love a pensioner in a book and this was no exception.
Albert has worked all his life as a postman, he keeps to himself, preferring his own company and that of his cat.
The first part of the book was really very sad, following how Albert came to be like he was and jumping between present and his past, but gradually Albert starts to blossom and we see that he doesn't want to be on his own as he starts his quest to find a past love.
I loved this one, at first I thought, can I cope with reading something that is going to be this sad, but it was the ultimate uplit and showed how Albert rediscovered himself.
LGBT plays a big part in this book and it was so very well woven through, showing past experiences and how they contrasted with present experiences.
I am expecting this to be a summer hit and will be highly recommending this to everyone.
Touching and heartwarming story about a man who lives a solitary life, worrying that he will not be understood following the terrible treatment he received when his father discovered he was gay. Explores the experiences and stigma of growing up gay and how attitudes have changed over the decades since the 1950s
Albert has worked in the same job as a postman since leaving school. He avoids mixing with his work colleagues as much as possible, but he loves his job and is devastated to find he is going to be forced to retire at his next birthday.
Events conspire to make him think about how much he regrets having to break up with his boyfriend all those years ago, and he gradually gets the courage and help from his new friends to try to find his long lost love.
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