The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech | Book Review (@LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks) #LionTamerWhoLost

Published by Orenda Books

Available in ebook and paperback (20 September 2018)

300 pages

Source: Copy provided by publisher for review

This is the fourth book from Louise that I have read (all the others are reviewed on this blog) and this has been a much anticipated read for some time.  My thanks to Karen of Orenda for the paperback copy and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for including me on the blog tour.

|   About the Book   |

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…

|   My Thoughts   |

One thing I love about Louise’s books, apart from the beautiful writing of course, is that that they are all so different.   Who would have thought that a book about two men falling in love and a lion sanctuary would have worked but in Louise’s hands it turns into a poignant and emotional love story.

The story starts in Zimbabwe with 23 year old Ben. He is volunteering at The Liberty Lion Rehabilitation Project and fulfilling his lifelong wish of being with lions. Despite living his dream, he is not happy. There is clearly some bad blood between him and his father who he has no wish to contact.  Ben’s father does not come across as a nice man and it is clear that Ben is withholding something important from him. One thing that stands out in this part of the story is the way that Louise portrays the African landscape, it was a character on its own – the colours, smells and sounds were all intricately described and every scene was bought to life.

Back in England we’re with Andrew and hear the story of how he met Ben.  Through chapters alternating between past and present and London and Zimbabwe, Andrew and Ben’s story unfolds.   Andrew is nearly 40, a writer of children’s books and part of the story follows his journey with his book – ‘The Lion Tamer Who Lost’.  A particularly nice touch was that each chapter begins with a short quote from Andrew’s book and we get to know the book characters as well.   A book within a book.

I don’t want to give away the story here – you need to discover and savour it but I became thoroughly engrossed in Andrew and Ben’s lives and devoured every chapter.  In the early chapters I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about Ben, he seemed quite immature for his age and it took me a while to engage with him but once Andrew became part of the story then they both stole a piece of my heart.

The characterisation is superb, all are complex with emotional depth, whether a main or minor character.  I was on Esther’s side all the way through and even Will, Ben’s father had almost won me over by the end. On another note, it was good to see the return of taxi driver Bob Fracklehurst, who if I remember correctly appeared in The Mountain in My Shoe. That man gets around!

We never know what will happen in our lives, things can change in a heartbeat and what we wish for isn’t always what we want.  The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a superbly written story that can’t fail to move even the hardest of hearts.  Louise Beech has written another stunning book. I loved it.

|   About the Author  |

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her next book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Maria in the Moon was compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and widely reviewed. All three books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. 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 and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – 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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