The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain | Book Review

“‘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, now 64-years-old, 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. Being a postman is one of the few things everyone knows about him. And it is one of the few things he is comfortable with people knowing. 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.

28. The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle

I picked this up in my post-covid recovery period after a month-long reading gap. In my first sitting I managed three chapters before it gave me a splitting headache, energy levels having hit rock bottom and an utter inability to concentrate. Yet, those three chapters had me intrigued that I was impatient to return to it. Two days later I picked it up again; was unable to get past one paragraph and had to put it away. This continued for a week until I gathered enough strength to read and eventually finished it in two sittings.

Albert’s awkwardness around people endears him to you. He avoids people in close proximity where they may be prone to start a conversation but that isn’t entirely possible for a postman. Nonetheless, he has found ways to keep it short. But something about Nicole-the teen mother raising a toddler by herself-prompts him to approach her.

It is at poignant moments the author chooses to reveal Albert’s past via flashback episodes: his blossoming relationship with George and the challenges they faced to keep it a secret. Seeing Nicole in love, and reminded of his impending lonely future, resurrects the memories he has long buried deep in his heart. Then, realising retirement does not mean the end, he chooses to embark on the biggest adventure of this life.

I loved getting to know Albert and his friends: colleagues at the post office, residents on his mail delivery route, and strangers he met along the way. He is a kind man whom society forced into a shell from which he was unable to break free. 

Nicole plays a substantial role in Albert’s journey and her pragmatic approach to life is a breath of fresh air. It is a joy to read a character so young who is determined to rise above her circumstances with hard work and self-respect. Albert’s manager, Marjorie, who is loud and chatty may seem hilariously theatrical but is someone with a surprisingly progressive outlook and a heart of pure gold.

I adored how Albert’s new-found confidence drew warmth into his heart, giving him courage to be honest about himself and proud of his identity. When he placed his trust in people, they reciprocated in equal measure.

The sincerity in the telling of his story highlights the challenges the LGBTQ+ community has faced through history. The optimism it offers is especially encouraging to those who have still not found the strength to express their identity.

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

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain. Published in May 2021 by Headline Publishing Group. This ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Headline Books.

Book 28 of 2021.

Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Available on Amazon*.

About Photo: Albert posted letters through every model, size, and fit of mail boxes on his delivery route.
This 3D letter box is made using blue and red cardstock and is placed on a faux wooden post made from brown craft paper.

28. The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle

About the Author: Matt Cain was born in Bury and brought up in Bolton. He is an author, a leading commentator on LGBT+ issues, and a former journalist. He was Channel 4’s first Culture Editor, Editor-In-Chief of Attitude magazine, and has judged the Costa Prize, the Polari Prize and the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. He won Diversity In Media’s Journalist Of the Year award in 2017 and is an ambassador for Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, plus a patron of LGBT+ History Month. 
Matt’s first two novels, Shot Through the Heart and Nothing But Trouble, were published by Pan Macmillan in 2014 and 2015, and his third, The Madonna Of Bolton, became Unbound’s fastest crowdfunded novel ever before its publication in 2018.
Matt lives in London. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter.
 
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*Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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