*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author, Anne Cater and Orenda Books. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: 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 is a heartbreaking tale of love, grief and family relationships.
The plot twists and turns as it moves between the past and present, and between the two settings: hot, dusty Africa, with its beautiful sunrises and wild lions and grey, dull England with its cuppas in the kitchen and stale fag smoke.
Beautifully written and exceedingly emotionally engaging, I found myself unable to put the story down, as I needed to know what had happened and would happen next to poor, troubled Ben. By the ending I felt totally drained and kept returning to mull over the story in following days, as it took a while for the full impact of events to sink in!
The characterisation here was natural and thoughtfully developed. I personally particularly loved Andrew and, latterly, Will (despite his many, many flaws). I found that I empathised with Ben throughout but was also aggravated by his assumptions and prejudices, which he was quick to attribute to others on little-to-no evidence. It was nice to see him grow in this respect as the plot progressed, and I just felt sad that it took such emotional turmoil for him to learn those lessons.
On a similar note, I was not as keen on the Ben / Esther subplot, as I was on the rest of the storyline. His cavalier behaviour towards her seemed quite at odds with his characterisation as a whole. I found Ben a thoughtful character, sensitive to the thoughts, feelings and opinions of others, but with Esther he seems more dishonest, and also quite casual about the potential hurt his actions could cause. Maybe we can put this down to his recent trauma making him more self-centred and oblivious!
The Lion Tamer Who Lost is my first Louise Beech novel and I can definitely see what all the fuss is about. I would whole-heartedly recommend this book and would read anything else Louise Beech writes too!
He closes his eyes. The musky smell of hot animal fur drifts on the air. The muggy morning breeze seems to whisper something to him. He won’t listen. He didn’t come here to listen. Or to think. Or to remember. But the breeze tugs at his shorts, whispers in his ear. It sounds like home, home, home.
– Louise Beech, The Lion Tamer Who Lost
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