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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
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‘Be careful what you wish for…. Be careful who you love…’

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is the fourth novel from Louise Beech. Published by the fabulous Orenda Books, it is described as ‘a devastatingly beautiful love story with a dark and tragic heart’. A novel exploring LGBTQ themes, it tells the fateful tale of a beautiful love that is tarnished by secrets of the past.

This is a book that you might need the Kleenex for folks…you have been warned!

Ben is a troubled soul. Now on a lion reserve in Zimbabwe, Ben is searching for escape. Slow to make friends and very much a loner, Ben is struggling to come to terms with the many difficulties in his life. While there, he takes on the responsibility of a young lion cub, Lucy. Lucy and her twin brother, Chuma, are orphaned. Without the assistance of the reserve, these poor siblings would find it very challenging to survive alone in the jungle. Ben spends his days, and many nights, helping Lucy and forming a very tentative bond with her. This time he spends alone with Lucy gives him the opportunity to straighten out some of his own thoughts, in an attempt to make sense of the direction his life has taken.

Ben’s mother passed away when he was younger. His brother went into the army, leaving Ben at home with a father who had his own troubles to deal with. His father has a serious drink problem as well as many other issues, making life for Ben very, very tough.

Andrew is a writer, many years older than Ben. They meet in the college library before Ben’s trip to Africa takes place. Andrew is attempting to gather his thoughts together in the hope of someday releasing a children’s book. His idea for the book is about a little boy with challenges of his own, an inspirational book for kids entitled The Lion Tamer Who Lost. From their initial meeting it is very clear that their paths will cross again and inevitably it does. Andrew lives a very private life, letting few into his personal space. When he meets Ben, he knows there is something very special about him, something fragile and rare.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost explores the relationship between Ben and Andrew. Ben has his own history with his father and seems to be battling life on so many levels. When we join him in Zimbabwe, his life has changed beyond recognition and will continue to do so.

Ben and Andrew, Andrew and Ben. Their story has that Romeo & Juliet feel about it, that of ‘the star-crossed lovers’. Andrew believes in wishes but, only ever in a wish that is possible. From a young age he has kept one wish locked away, one he can never imagine happening, yet one he had always hoped for. The tagline of this book is ‘Be careful what you wish for..‘ and in Andrew’s case he makes a discovery that will have an impact on his future and that of many others, when his wish finally comes true.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a very poignant novel, dealing with so many issues, that, as a society, we are striving to improve upon. Louise Beech has captured a moment, a sweet and beautiful moment, that as a reader, you wish could be locked away and cherished forever but alas, life will always intervene. The story of Ben and Andrew is filled with love and regrets, grief and heart break.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is quite an intense read, quite an emotional read, but also, for me, it is a book filled with a magical energy. Love can happen anywhere, between any two people, regardless of gender, colour or creed. The problem is with us, as a society, and how we perceive this love. Louise Beech has written a book that will hopefully open a few minds to the fact that ‘being different’ is ok.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a heartbreaking tale, a novel that will leave it’s mark on you and will make you think…..

I will leave with you with this beautiful quote from the ‘novel within a novel’ of The Lion Tamer Who Lost:

‘You never dance alone, you are always dancing on the bigger feet of those who loved you first.’

Passionate. Sensitive. Touching.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.