Today it is a an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech. It’s a touching story of resilience, shame and confusion, and yet ultimately also one which highlights the complex structure of relationships and love.
About the Author
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.
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 it 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?
After I finished this book I went for a walk to think about what spoke to me the most. Is this Ben or Andrew’s story? Is it a story of coming-of-age, finding yourself, about love or being true to yourself? In a way it is all of those things and more.
It reminded me of a book I read many decades ago, an important work of literary fiction, the kind of book that leaves a mark. Homo Faber by Max Frisch has many elements in common with the story of Ben and Andrew. A story of an inexplicable connection and a love that was meant to be, but at the same time never allowed to be. GSA is common because it is hardwired into our psychology. A tribal instinct embedded into our DNA perhaps.
I have to pause for a moment and compliment the author on the research that went into the lion sanctuary part of this story. Did she spend half a year sleeping in the cage of an angry and anxious lion cub? That is how convincing the scenes between Ben and Lucy are.
There is no doubt Beech is a natural scribe and storyteller, and even if she hadn’t already cemented that with her previous books, then this book certainly does. This book speaks to the oddity and tragedy of life, of the connections we make, the ones which leave the strongest memories and alter the course of our lives.
In a way I believe Lucy’s journey is not only a life-changing experience for the young man wounded by fate and crippled by his fear of rejection, it is also a beautiful metaphor for his own journey. The anxious, fearful Ben is taught to trust, love, live and ultimately to embrace himself and his desires. Ben gives Lucy a helping hand, and in his own way Andrew does the same for Ben.
I purposely haven’t written about the various threads in this tale, because I think every reader should discover and follow them for themselves. What resonates so strongly for me may merely be a passing thought for someone else. It’s a touching story of resilience, shame and confusion, and yet ultimately also one which highlights the complex structure of relationships and love.
It’s a beautiful read.
Publisher: Orenda Books, orendabooks.co.uk