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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.8 out of 5
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  • Acceptance

    This is a really uplifting and heartwarming story which is also incredibly thought provoking. Albert Entwistle is quite a sad character, he’s worked a postie for nearly fifty years but has had no one in his life beyond his mother who died years ago, instead he concentrates his feelings on his beloved cat rather than risk letting his actual feelings rise to the surface. Albert was in love fifty years ago but it was a forbidden love, one which he struggled with due to his incredibly bigoted father. This book is a great study both of how attitudes to homosexuality have changed over the decades but also how prejudice still exists in life. It was great to see how Albert unfurled throughout the book the more he puts his fears aside and how letting people into his life made it all the more richer.

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  • Poignant and heart-warming.

    I don’t want to reveal too much about this delightful, poignant and thought-provoking story because I think much of its power lies in the reader joining Albert on his journey of self-discovery. Through his flashbacks I felt I was experiencing with him his re-living of the traumatic experiences of his youth which had caused him to deny his sexual orientation and become so emotionally isolated. At times I felt almost engulfed by the profound sadness of his memories, especially his lasting shame about his betrayal of George. Then, as he began to step out of his comfort zone, as he tentatively reached out to people and began to make friends within the community, I shared his joyful amazement as his life started to become more emotionally satisfying and happier. I delighted in seeing him blossom as he discovered that the more he reached out to other people, and the more honest he was about himself, the more they seemed to like and accept him. Then, as he became more open, his discovery that that he was not the only one who hid behind a defensive carapace, that other people too had fears and anxieties they were struggling with and that he could offer them support. I enjoyed the motley group of characters who enriched Albert’s new life, loved the moments of gentle humour which ran through the story – and the fact that it was set in Lancashire, county of my childhood, added a much appreciated dimension, particularly as the author included expressions which evoked some fond memories … just like Albert, my grandfather often exclaimed ‘hellfire’! On one level this could be regarded as an overly-sentimental, easy to read, feel-good story about secrets, regrets, love and friendship and how it’s never too late to change, to take on new challenges. It could also be dismissed as being a tad unconvincing in its portrayal of characters whose personalities appear to change overnight – for instance, Albert ‘suddenly’ becoming more so much more outgoing, fashionable and confident, a homophobic work colleague’s attitudes being immediately ‘transformed’ when Albert comes out as gay. However, on balance, I found that such niggles were off-set by the fact that central to the story is an exploration of prejudice and harassment and a reminder of how life has, albeit painfully slowly at times, changed for gay men since the 1960s. Male homosexuality wasn’t decriminalised until 1967, but even then, that applied only to men over the age of twenty-one and it remained illegal for them to meet in public places. This meant that the police continued to raid bars and ‘cruising grounds’ for many more years – in fact more men were prosecuted during the seventies than in the sixties, with those who were convicted being placed on the sex offenders’ register. With my thanks to the publisher and NB for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Joyous & Poignant

    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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  • A love story and a brilliantly written one too

    The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is an amazing journey of lost love. Our title character sixty-four-year-old Postman Albert Entwistle and his friend George Atkinson fell in love as young boys in a time when gay men were not generally accepted in society, some fifty-plus years ago. I loved the honest reflection of how life was back in the 1970s and the emotions looking back on those times really hit me hard. My favourite character has got to be Albert, he had a determination that shone and after years of hiding and being alone was ready to fully embrace life. I also loved the young George. I could vividly imagine his flamboyant ways, singing, and dancing when the two met at the bunker. The story kept me enthralled and I just loved the details and description of Albert’s life, the way he became more open about himself, the sadness of his past but the happiness he found in his new friends Nicole and Edith, along with his work colleagues. This was a definite page-turner as I couldn’t get enough of Albert. I also found it infuriating and so sad reading how narrow-minded some people were in the past and glad that things have improved from the way they were, although we still have a long way to go in the fight for full acceptance from everyone. The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is a love story and a brilliantly written one too, well done Matt Cain. It felt uplifting and heart-warming. It was beautiful to watch Albert as he stopped hiding his sexuality from people and embraced it. I will certainly be recommending this book to all my family and friends.

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