Monday, 10 May 2021

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain @MattCainWriter @RosieMargesson @headlinepg @HeadlineFiction #SecretLifeOfAlbertEntwistle


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 . . .

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!

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain is published on 27 May 2021 by Headline Review. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Don't you just love it when you read a book that delivers such an emotional punch that you find yourself thinking about the characters for a long time afterwards?  The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is one of those books, it is a story of differences, and love. It's a story of community and friendship, and most of all it's a celebration of how times have changed so much over the past fifty years.

Albert Entwistle is a 64 year old postman, living in a town in Northern England. Everyone knows Albert the postman, but nobody at all knows Albert the man. He has walked his route since he was sixteen years old, seeing the same faces, watching families grow, observing the changes in the area. Albert must retire when he is sixty five, that's just a few months away, and he is devastated. He has lived alone, with just his cat for company for eighteen years, before that, he nursed his elderly and quite obnoxious mother. Albert doesn't have friends, he doesn't chat to his colleagues. He is insular and remote. Albert is afraid of rejection, he is afraid to allow anyone to know him. Albert was in love once, when he was just a teen, that love was shattered and he has never forgiven himself for the what was said during the final conversation he had with George. 

Albert's turning point is triggered by a sadness and an emerging friendship with single mum Nicole, who is dealing with her own disappointments. He gradually opens up to her, and with her knowledge about social media, fashion and her total acceptance of how he is, he decides that maybe he can come out to his colleagues and neighbours, and find George, and make amends for what happened all those years ago.

Told over two timelines; the present day, and back in the 1970s, this is a poignant and joyful story told with such empathy and compassion. The author's depiction of how homosexuality was viewed, and how gay men were persecuted is heartbreaking. The sense of anger grew in me, and yet it is not that long ago, but oh, how things have changed. 

Albert and Nicole are a wonderful pairing, helping each other to overcome their own personal hurdles. The writing flows so well, and the reader is caught up their world, willing things to go right and experiencing the highs and the lows along the way. 

A story filled with love, acceptance, humour and compassion, it's a book that has cried out to be written and should be read by everyone. It's a testament to how much society has changed over the years, and how love can overcome most things in life. Beautiful and heartfelt, I highly recommend this novel. 

A note from the Author

One of the things that inspired me to write The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle was all the joy I felt at seeing gay men like myself being embraced by British society. I think you'd be hard-pushed to find any other minority community in the UK that was as hated, feared and vilified as gay men were fifty years ago and is now as widely celebrated and loved.

Acceptance of gay men has become a touchstone of British values within less than a decade, something that even the most optimistic commentators couldn't have predicted. I wanted to write a book that would celebrate this. And I sincerely hope that The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle makes its readers feel good about themselves and the part they've played in bringing about this extraordinary social shift. 

Matt Cain

Matt Cain was born in Bury and brought up in Bolton. He was educated at state schools and then
Cambridge University.
Matt spent ten years making arts and entertainment programmes for ITV, including documentaries about Freddie Mercury, Mamma Mia! and The Da Vinci Code, and profiles of Ian McKellen, Darcey Bussell and Will Young for The South Bank Show.
Between 2010 and 2013, Matt worked in front of the camera as Channel 4 News’ first ever Culture Editor, a role in which he attracted acclaim for his coverage of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Mercury Music Prize and the Turner Prize, as well as interviews with Grayson Perry, the Spice Girls and Pedro Almodóvar.
Matt’s first novel, Shot Through the Heart, was published by Pan Macmillan in 2014. The second, Nothing But Trouble, followed in 2015.

Between 2016 and 2018 Matt worked as Editor-in-Chief of Attitude, the UK's biggest-selling magazine for gay men. Whilst in the role he negotiated world-exclusive covers with Sam Smith, Ricky Martin and James Corden, launched and hosted the popular #AttitudeHeroes podcast, and ran the Attitude Awards, hosted by Tom Daley, with winners including Prince Harry and Kylie Minogue. He also wrote exclusive reports on his personal experience of HIV prevention drug PrEP, homophobia in Russia, and life for gay people in China.

As a freelance journalist, Matt has written for all the UK’s major newspapers and appeared on Sky News, BBC Breakfast and Good Morning Britain. He was a judge for the 2013 Costa Book Awards and the Polari First Novel Prize in 2014 and continues to judge the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. He has been nominated for Stonewall's Writer of the Year award and in 2017 was voted winner of Diversity in Media's Journalist of the Year award.


In 2017 Matt crowdfunded his third novel The Madonna of Bolton, after receiving over 30 rejections from publishers, reportedly due to its gay protagonist and theme. The title reached its funding target in seven days, becoming Unbound's fastest-crowdfunded novel ever. Pledges came in from 28 countries and the project was backed by celebrities including David Walliams, Mark Gatiss, David Nicholls, Lisa Jewell and Gok Wan. The Madonna of Bolton was published by Unbound in 2018.


Matt is an ambassador for both Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, the UK's national youth LGBT+ homelessness charity. He's also a patron of LGBT History Month. 


His next novel, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, will be published by Headline Review in May 2021.

He lives in London.

Twitter @MattCainWriter

Instagram @mattcainwriter

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