Monday, 13 August 2018

Review - The Lion Tamer Who Lost - Louise Beech - heartbreaking fiction

Review – The Lion Tamer who Lost by Louise Beech

Be careful what you wish for it might just come true, is definitely the moral of this lovely, engaging romantic and heartbreaking read.

Ben has always wished he could work with lions, whilst Andrews wishes are more complex, so he keeps his written on post-it notes and concealed inside his Wish Box.

When these two meet it feels like fate could have thrown them together and this book is certainly a series of bizarre and pretty improbable coincidences.

When you read a book that breaks a piece of your heart and you turn to the back and discover your own name in the mentions and thankyous … perhaps that’s just another of those bizarre coincidences, for not only did that happen to me in my proof copy of this book, which eventually found its way to me via a long and circuitous route (and I was so thrilled to be mentioned I yipped out loud on the bus) but a similar thing also happens in the book to one of the characters.

The book alternates in point of view between the two main characters Ben and Andrew. Andrew is an author and every chapter of this book begins with a quote from the book he is writing, a childrens book called … “The Lion Tamer who lost” whilst Ben is tells his story from Africa where he is living out his wish by working on a Lion conservation project.

As other readers have already said, it’s quite difficult to describe the story without giving too much away. So I’ll tell you how it made me feel - I galloped through it, as it is a real page turner and the series of coincidences left me reeling, first with delight then with sorrow and there is a real punch in the gut OMG moment that I hadn’t anticipated which almost physically had me reeling.

The clever author, whose previous book Maria in the moon, which I also loved, covered some pretty difficult subjects, takes a handful of taboo and thought provoking topics and blends these ingredients together into a perfect, beautifully iced cake, which you bite into only to find a shockingly bitter and terrible core. Family dynamics are the main underlying base to this gateau, filled with love and passion, sprinkled with wishes and hopes, and sandwiched together with loneliness, impossibility, sickness and pain.

You do need to be able to willingly accept very unlikely coincidences and also believe in fate to go with the flow and enjoy this book as it was intended to be enjoyed. But hey, isn’t life often stranger than fiction and bizarre and unpredictable things can happen.

You also need to be able to read this somewhere a little private as it’s certainly going to make you ugly cry at some point. There is a certain point where the realisation that in one aspect at least this book is never, ever going to have one of the happy outcomes it’s made you long for, that completely knocked me sideways. But, many of the characters, the ones you grow to love and even the ones you dislike and get very exasperated with will surprise you and by the end, you will feel a part of the disparate family at the core of the story.

My thanks to for my copy.

The Blurb

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn't...

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn't for the reasons he imagined...

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but are they for a reason? Ben's father would disown him for his relationship with Andrew, so they must hide their love. Andrew is determined to make it work, but secrets from his past threaten to ruin everything.

Ben escapes to Zimbabwe to finally fulfil his lifelong ambition. But will he ever return to England? To Andrew? To the truth? 

A dark and poignant drama, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a mesmerisingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart.

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