Blog Tour: The Six Loves of Billy Binns – Richard Lumsden

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*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author, Tinder Press and and Anne Cater of  Random Things Blog Tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

 

billybinnsthumbnail_billybinnscoverBlurb: I remember my dreams but not where they start.
Further back, I recall some of yesterday and the day before that. Then everything goes into a haze.
Fragments of memories come looming back like red London buses in a pea-souper.
Time plays funny tricks these days.
I wait for the next memory. I wait and I wait.

At 117 years old, Billy Binns is the oldest man in Europe and he knows his time is almost up. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what love feels like one last time. As he looks back at the relationships that have shaped his flawed life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a life full of hope, mistakes, heartbreak and, above all, love.

 

My heart aches with how very sad this story is.

Richard Lumsden takes the reader on a journey back and forth deep in the life of the titular character, Billy Binns, who reminded me of Forrest Gump at times with his literal and simplistic outlook on life.

The book is told in segments roughly corresponding to the five people who Billy has loved (in different ways) in his life, but the timeline meanders between past and present within each ‘part’, like the memory of an old man recounting his life history from the end days.

Billy spares himself and us nothing in the retelling.  We get the terrible, raw truth of the indignity and vulnerability of old age.  We hear of all of his bad decisions, stupid actions and hurtful words.  Despite his honesty, Billy is an unreliable narrator as – like the other elderly people in The Cedars – his memory is not what it was, and he is often unsure of his facts, and equally often sure of facts that contradict others he has stood by!

Still, throughout the narrative we see some constancy in Billy’s kind thoughts about others, his willingness to own his mistakes and to accept other people just as they are.  Not one of his five loves (I know, I know, five, six… but you have to sort that out for yourself I’m afraid, like I did!) was anything like I had expected.  Every single one shocked, surprised and saddened me as my confident expectations seeped away or were turned upside down.

This is a beautiful and intricate story of the ordinary life of a man.  Not a spectacular man, or even always a good man, or a clever man.  Just a man who loved and was loved – perhaps not enough – and who wants to remember and be remembered.  And what could be more important than that?

 

 

Mary, Evie, Archie, Vera, Mrs Jackson.
Five of them in all.
Five loves? Is that it?
It doesn’t sound much after all this time.
I recall the names, but the faces come and go.
When you first meet someone, you don’t know how long they’ll be in your life for. It could be minutes or it could be forever.
You don’t know when it starts.
And you don’t know when it stops.
Some endings are final, others take you by surprise.
Their last goodbye.
The world drags them away and all that’s left is a fading memory, turning to dust like the flesh on these old bones.

I want to remember what love feels like, one last time. To remember each of the people I loved, to see them all clearly again.
I’ll start with Mary.
Get it down on paper, all the details, before it’s gone for good.
While it’s still clear in my head.

– Richard Lumsden, The Six Loves of Billy Binns

 

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You can find more from Richard Lumsden at his website, or follow him on Twitter and Goodreads.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns is available on Amazon right now, and please don’t forget to check out the other stops on this blog tour (see poster below for details) for more great content and reviews!

 

 

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