Monday 10 December 2018

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #LionTamerWhoLost


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…

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech was published by Orenda Books on 20 September 2018.
I read and reviewed this one for the Daily Express in September and am now delighted to share my full review here on Random Things.

“We all need to dance on feet bigger than ours sometimes.”

This is a line said by Andrew to Ben, around half way through The Lion Tamer Who Lost and for me, it sums up perfectly, just what this beautifully written story is about.

Louise Beech has written a book that will touch the most hard-hearted of readers, it is full of love and desire and deals with the most sensitive of issues, yet the author’s trademark Northern gritty humour shines through her writing. There was always a chance that this story could be sweeter than honey, but Louise Beech’s incredible way with words, and with characters ensures that it is always real.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is structured magnificently; beginning as Ben watches the sunrise in Zimbabwe, as he does most mornings. Ben has been a volunteer at the lion sanctuary for just five days and the beauty of the morning sun is one of his highlights.
It is clear that Ben has left tragedy behind in England, although the reader is never quite sure what has happened. We know that it concerns his father and his friend Andrew, but the finer details are not revealed until much later in the book.

The dual narrative of both Ben and Andrew works beautifully, as the reader learns more about each man and the circumstances that have led to Ben finally taking the trip to Africa that he’s thought about for many years.

The author takes her readers from Africa, to East Yorkshire in snapshots from Ben and Andrew’s lives before, during and after. Her ability to create such differing setting that are both atmospheric and totally believable is quite stunning. The reader feels equally at home in the searing heat of the lion reserve and also in the greyer and more solid English settings.

It is the characters in this novel who are the real stars though; the contrasting outlooks of Ben and Andrew; the age-old bias of Ben’s father and the yearning love and gradual realisation shown by Esther. Each one of them are perfectly created; flawed yet human, knowable and expertly balanced.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is an amazing study of love, and of grief. Louise Beech holds her readers firmly in her hand as she tells her story. Her ability to convey human emotion is precise and impassioned.

I’ve read all of this author’s books and can honestly say that this is her best yet. I was enthralled, moved to tears and totally lost when I turned the final page.

Louise Beech remembers sitting in her father's cross-legged lap while he tried to show her his guitar's chords. He's a musician. Her small fingers stumbled and gave up. She was three. His music sheets fascinated her - such strange language that translated into music. Her mother teaches languages, French and English, so her fluency with words fired Louise's interest. She knew from being small that she wanted to write, to create, to make magic. 

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism. Her debut novel was a Guardian Readers' pick for 2015. 

She is inspired by life, history, survival and love, and always has a story in her head. Her debut novel, How to be Brave, came from truth - when Louise's daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad's real life sea survival story. Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, will be released in September 2016 and was inspired by her time working with children in the care system.

When she was fifteen Louise bet her mother ten pounds she'd be published by the time she was thirty. She missed this self-set deadline by two months. Her mother is still waiting for the money.

Find out more at -

Follow on Twitter at @LouiseWriter

Orenda Books website -
Follow Orenda on Twitter @OrendaBooks

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