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Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Inconvenient Need to Belong by Paula Smedley

A story told in two time lines of a carefree youngster Alfie in 1953 England and then moving to his late eighties living out his days in a care home.

Cantankerous now, keeping everyone out, socially inept Alfie has not changed especially the social part. Brought up by a strict dominant father whose word was law and who was to be feared, whose mother just followed his father's orders, the only person he loved was his sister Betty. But to get out from these suffocating circumstances, he crept out in the dead of the night and a reconciliation was never possible.

Now Alfie reminisces about his past with Fred a youngster who joins him on Saturday mornings on a park bench. Alfie sees in Fred a younger version of himself and gives an account of how his life panned out hoping that Fred will not make the mistakes he made. Befriending Anne on a pen pal site was a way of reaching out of his solitude and putting to paper what he has bottled up for decades.

I seem to be reading a lot of stories of people who are loners, who are socially not upto fitting into groups in a casual way and as a result are thought to be arrogant, evasive and just difficult. Alfie fits all the descriptions of being a cantankerous old man, whilst deep down he is just lonely and someone who has never got around to not being judgemental and to accept people as they are.

This was an eye opener of a read for older people - to live and let live, to realize that the end is closer than one thinks.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of BooksGoSocial.


  1. Ah sounds a little sad for Alfie. I am not sure trying to prevent Fred from making life mistakes would work, but maybe.

  2. The curmudgeon protagonist seems to be popular in recent years.

  3. Sounds kind of sad. Great review!

  4. This book sounds interesting based on your very nice review. I think most often loners are simply lonely people who never learned to successfully interact with others.