It’s my turn on the blog tour for this lovely book by Ruby Hummingbird. Thank you to Sarah at Bookouture for inviting me along to celebrate the launch of this fantastic debut novel. Don’t forget to visit other bloggers on the tour to see what they thought.
About the Book
Sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can float to the top.
Maria Birch is seventy years old and, for her, every week is the same.
On Monday, she does her weekly shop. On Tuesday, she goes for a blow-dry. On Wednesday, she visits the laundrette. But Thursday is her favourite day of all – everything hurts less on a Thursday.
Every Thursday Maria walks to her local café. Waiting for her at one of the red gingham-topped tables is Albie Young, a charming man with a twinkle in his eye and an impressive collection of tweed flat caps. Every week, the pair share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea.
Except, one week, Albie doesn’t turn up.
When Maria finds out what has happened, her perfectly ordered life is ripped apart at the seams. Suddenly, she is very lonely. Without her Thursday friend – her only friend – she no longer has the energy to circle the weekly TV listings, she has no reason to leave her apartment, no reason to laugh.
Then she discovers that Albie isn’t who she thought he was, and she’s left wondering if she knew her friend at all. But Albie has left behind a legacy – a handwritten list of wishes he never got the chance to complete.
Maria is resigned to facing the rest of her days heartbroken and alone. But fulfilling Albie’s wishes could hold the key to her happiness – if only she’s able to look past his secret…
This life-affirming and heartfelt tale is for anyone who has ever looked at their life and wanted more. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things will love this poignant story, which shows us that for the truest loves, the end is never really the end…
What I thought
When I read the book description for this I knew I’d enjoy it. The main character who, despite the title isn’t Albie Young but Maria Birch, is 70 years old. Every time I’ve read a book (and there’s been a few) with a more mature female protagonist, they’ve all been quite special and this one is no exception.
One recurring theme in these books featuring older people is that of loneliness. Of course loneliness isn’t just associated with older people and can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons but it is a fact that the older you get then the more prone you become to ending up feeling isolated from society.
Maria tends to stick with quite a rigid timetable for her week. She allocates one chore or task for each day and then looks forward to catching up with TV in the evenings. She lives alone, there is no mention of a husband or children in the beginning, just Maria and her TV. However she has one highlight in her life on Thursdays when she goes to meet Albie in the local cafe for a pot of tea, a slice of cake and most of all Albie’s company and attention. We get the impression Maria is more than a little smitten with Albie and she looks forward to her meetings with him.
Sadly one day Albie doesn’t turn up at the cafe. Disappointed she consoles herself with the week after, only there’s no Albie again. Maria doesn’t have a very high opinion of herself and as the book moves on we start to understand why she feels this way about herself. At first she thinks it was maybe something she said or perhaps something she didn’t say, or maybe Albie just got bored with her.
When Maria finds out what has happened to her only friend, she’s at first in shock and retreats into her safe place – her flat, refusing to go out, to see anyone, even to shop and eat properly.
When Maria finds a wish list of things that Albie wanted to do, she decides to try to carry them out on his behalf. This is when Maria starts to realise how much of life she’s missed out on. That helping others can be very rewarding and as she moves through the list Maria becomes firm friends with each of the characters in the book. It’s a kind of bucket list, and yes it’s been done before in other books but that doesn’t matter because each book and each set of stories that goes with these bucket lists are personal and heartfelt including this one.
It isn’t all plain sailing for Maria. The list throws obstacles in her way, and often fearful of being rejected or thought of as intrusive Maria sometimes has to just bite the bullet, feel the fear and do it anyway. As a result she ends up with a far more fulfilled life than she had ever experienced before.
I liked all the characters in the book. They all have a story to tell, often sad but with hope and light at the end of the tunnel. After living many years under a heavy blanket of guilt, Maria eventually reconciles her present with her past and through the legacy left by Albie, Maria starts to live life again with all the joy and sometimes heartbreak that life brings. Perhaps a lesson to us all that life should be lived in the present, not in the past.
A warm-hearted read with many different challenges for Maria to deal with and to keep the reader interested. I give this book five glowing stars, it was everything I anticipated it to be and more besides.
♥ Happy Reading ♥
Ruby Hummingbird is a novelist based in the English countryside. She loves nothing more than writing uplifting and heartwarming fiction that gets her readers reaching for the tissues. When she isn’t storytelling, she can be found tending to her beloved sunflowers or sipping on hazelnut lattes. The Wish List of Albie Young is her debut novel, and it promises to be a real heartbreaker.
You can find Ruby on Twitter at @HummingbirdRuby, on Facebook at /ruby.hummingbird.58 and on Instagram at rubyhummingbirdauthor.
You can buy the book both on Kindle and Paperback here