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 the man that, many years ago, he lost - but has never forgotten . . .
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!
A lot of folks have compared this book to a Fredrik Bachman book, with specific parallels drawn to A Man Called Ove. While the comparison is not NOT valid, it’s a little off the mark because while Ove is a curmudgeon, Albert is…Albert is almost not present in his life. He goes out of his way to be superficially pleasant to everyone, but extricates himself immediately with a wave and a smile, exclaiming some variation on a theme of “these letters won’t deliver themselves!” But when it comes down to it, Albert is very much alone, a state that he has convinced himself he prefers. He doesn’t want to know people. He doesn’t want friends. He is seemingly content in a very solitary existence. He lives his life like he is almost on the verge of fading out of it, like he is present only in the most literal sense. He is almost a non-person.
Albert is gay, which is a phrase that he has never said out loud. He was raised in a time when being queer led to beatings, incarceration or worse. He was raised by a police officer father, whose cruelty toward Albert and George, the boy that 16-year-old Albert loved, was truly horrific. As Albert reflects on his forced retirement from the Post Office, he comes across a surprising cache of letters from his love, letters seemingly inexplicably saved by Albert’s distant mother.
The letters prompt Albert to make changes in his life, prompt him to try and find George, and along the way, prompt him to try…being friendly. To try to open himself up to the possibility that he might not have to live his entire life alone.
The book is kind, and heartwarming. Albert is not so much afraid of knowing others as he is of being known, and when he is known and seen and loved anyway, the change in him is palpable. Where he feared judgement, there is only acceptance. Where Albert was once alone, he finds an entire community aching to befriend him.
I thought that the book was a little slow, and I found that I could not read it for more than an hour or so at a time, before I was looking for something a little zippier. However, I returned to Albert day over day, because I did come to enjoy our time together. It’s a gentle book, full of hope, full of love. It might not be for everyone—it requires a bit of a commitment, a bit of stick-to-it-iveness. But ultimately I found it to be completely worth it.