ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

A new Louise Beech book is always a cause for huge excitement for me (I really must get round to the only one I haven’t read: How To Be Brave) so I couldn’t wait to read this, her latest offering. My thanks to Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the review copy and the place on the tour.

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

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Oh, this lovely, lovely book and this wonderful writer. The depth of Louise Beech’s writing wows me every time.

The two main characters are wonderful. Ben is young and a little immature at times, but a thoroughly nice person. Andrew is older, a writer of children’s books, more at ease with himself. The two seem drawn to each other with a series of coincidences that mean they just seem to fit together.

We follow each character in separate sections throughout the book, with action in Zimbabwe, where Ben has travelled to a lion reserve, and in England. We view the story from both sides and what a story!  It’s actually really hard to talk about it without going into too much detail so I won’t bother, I’ll just say what I felt.

This book is superb in every way. The writing is heartbreaking from the opening page, with such emotion, such light and shade in every sentence. The relationship between Ben and Andrew is so beautifully written I could cry, in fact I did sob for the final few chapters. But at times it was so wonderfully uplifting that I smiled.

I had an inkling in the back of my mind about the past secrets mentioned in the blurb but when they came to light I was still taken aback. Massive “OMG no” moment! But it’s testament to the emotion I felt and the empathy with the characters that I thought to myself “well, it doesn’t matter at all”. This will only make any sense if you have read the book but I defy you not to feel the same if you do read it.

The descriptions of Zimbabwe, the landscape, the experience, Ben’s interaction with the lions, all of these were so evocative I could imagine myself there. The same too with the sections in England – ok, Hull isn’t quite the same, but everything about the time that Ben and Andrew spent together is seared upon my memory, so intense, so beautiful.

Louise Beech is a writer whose books I would pick up without knowing a single thing about them. She takes me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. This book is plotted so well, to bring the past and present stories together in a non-linear way and to have the greatest effect on the reader. The combination of that, a gorgeous storyline, a tender love story and wonderful characters certainly had an effect on this reader. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of
Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.




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