The Lion Tamer Who Lost

by Louise Beech

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LoveReading Expert Review of The Lion Tamer Who Lost

A tender, gloriously beautiful relationship tale with a difference.

An absolute wow of a relationship tale, gloriously beautiful yet it may well have broken my heart. Ben travels to Africa and volunteers at a lion reserve, as we remain with him in the present, we also look back to his past, where he meets Andrew, who keeps a Wish Box. When Louise writes it feels touchable, even if I have not experienced the emotions she describes I can feel them deep inside me. I remained in every moment, moving with the words, the feelings, knowing I was heading into unchartered territory, yet unable to pause, to stop reading. Another story heads each chapter, linking Ben and Andrew, yet creating a separate connection. As I neared the ending, I will admit to sobbing, the story hit me low in my stomach, unexpected, yet as true and real and felt as could be. Louise Beech has done it again, this will most definitely be on my list of favourite reads of the year. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a relationship tale with a difference, it is tender, gripping, eloquent, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops.

Liz Robinson

The Lion Tamer Who Lost Synopsis

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…

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

This novel explores relationships between friends and between families, and the dangers of keeping secrets. ‘The lion tamer who lost’ is well written and deserves to be in the Top 10 fiction chart for many weeks.

Thank you to Louise Beech for transporting me between England and Zimbabwe. All the characters, human and lion, were brought to life beautifully and I found myself caring deeply about their journeys.
This novel explores relationships between friends and between families, and the dangers of keeping secrets. The issues raised are dealt with sensitively and I believe that this would be a great novel for schools to share with teenagers age 14+ to cover PSHE topics.
The Lion Tamer who Lost is well written and deserves to be in the Top 10 fiction chart for many weeks.

Karen Kingston

Be careful what you wish for it might just come true, is definitely the moral of this lovely, engaging romantic and heartbreaking read.

Be careful what you wish for it might just come true, is definitely the moral of this lovely, engaging romantic and heartbreaking read.

Ben has always wished he could work with lions, whilst Andrews wishes are more complex, so he keeps his written on post-it notes and concealed inside his Wish Box.

When these two meet it feels like fate could have thrown them together and this book is certainly a series of bizarre and pretty improbable coincidences.

When you read a book that breaks a piece of your heart and you turn to the back and discover your own name in the mentions and thankyous … perhaps that’s just another of those bizarre coincidences, for not only did that happen to me in my proof copy of this book, which eventually found its way to me via a long and circuitous route (and I was so thrilled to be mentioned I yipped out loud on the bus) but a similar thing also happens in the book to one of the characters.

The book alternates in point of view between the two main characters Ben and Andrew. Andrew is an author and every chapter of this book begins with a quote from the book he is writing, a childrens book called … “The Lion Tamer who lost” whilst Ben is tells his story from Africa where he is living out his wish by working on a Lion conservation project.

As other readers have already said, it’s quite difficult to describe the story without giving too much away. So I’ll tell you how it made me feel - I galloped through it, as it is a real page turner and the series of coincidences left me reeling, first with delight then with sorrow and there is a real punch in the gut OMG moment that I hadn’t anticipated which almost physically had me reeling.

The clever author, whose previous book Maria in the Moon, which I also loved, covered some pretty difficult subjects, takes a handful of taboo and thought provoking topics and blends these ingredients together into a perfect, beautifully iced cake, which you bite into only to find a shockingly bitter and terrible core. Family dynamics are the main underlying base to this gateau, filled with love and passion, sprinkled with wishes and hopes, and sandwiched together with loneliness, impossibility, sickness and pain.

You do need to be able to willingly accept very unlikely coincidences and also believe in fate to go with the flow and enjoy this book as it was intended to be enjoyed. But hey, isn’t life often stranger than fiction and bizarre and unpredictable things can happen.

You also need to be able to read this somewhere a little private as it’s certainly going to make you ugly cry at some point. There is a certain point where the realisation that in one aspect at least this book is never, ever going to have one of the happy outcomes it’s made you long for, that completely knocked me sideways. But, many of the characters, the ones you grow to love and even the ones you dislike and get very exasperated with will surprise you and by the end, you will feel a part of the disparate family at the core of the story.

Janet Lambert

Beautifully and sensitively written. I laughed, I cried, I was indignant, and I was overwhelmed. The Lion Tamer who Lost does not disappoint.

A chance meeting …… changed destinies ….. challenging issues.

Beautifully and sensitively written. The words soak deep into your consciousness and transport you far away.

I will not say too much about the plot – two men who keep meeting; two very different locations; future and past; father and son.

As for the emotional experience of reading the book. I laughed, I cried, I was indignant, and I was overwhelmed.

I loved Louise Beech’s excellent The Mountain in My Shoe, which left me speechless at the end. In the same way The Lion Tamer who Lost does not disappoint.

Barbara Gaskell

This book made me weep, it made me sad and it made me want to tell everyone to read it.

This novel is painfully moving and I was completely drawn into its gripping pure human emotion from the very beginning. Starting in Zimbabwe, the central character Ben has fled there from England to escape his secrets.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is about dreams and memories. It is about relationships and loss. Ben has always dreamt of working with lions and at last in Africa he helps to nurture the young lioness Lucy as she prepares for life in the wild. Ben meets and falls in love with children’s author, Andrew who keeps a silver box to store his wishes in. Most of these come true, but the implications of fulfilling his oldest wish are both heart breaking and devastating.

This is a poignant and tragic love story where rich and achingly real characters weave their way in and out of each other’s lives. This book made me weep, it made me sad and it made me want to tell everyone to read it. Louise Beech is one of those authors that I feel honoured to have read.

Dana Captainino

Beautifully written, wonderfully uplifting and yet woefully devastating at the same time, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is very special indeed.

In my experience a book has to be pretty special in order to move me to tears. The storyline, characters, setting, everything in fact needs to come together at the right time and at the right pace in order to make me react to the written word so emotionally. With a book there is no soft focus montage of sentimental memories or emotive music commonly used in movies to play with our emotions. With a book the writing has to be pretty darn good in order to achieve this effect and with The Lion Tamer Who Lost Louise Beech has absolutely nailed it. Moving, emotive, heart wrenching and just beautifully, beautifully written. It made me smile, it lifted my heart and it left me utterly bereft. I thought about Andrew and Ben long after I came to the end and I missed them from that moment onwards. Theirs was a deep and powerful relationship, a once in a lifetime true love. But life is complicated. Growing up with an aggressive, alcoholic, homophobic, womanising father when you are gay is an uncomfortable experience, especially when your mother’s dying wish was for you to make that man happy. How do you tell him that you are in fact one of the individuals he so despises? In response to this pressure and other cruel twists of fate, Ben turns to the lions in Africa. He focuses on them in order to blot out his memories of home. But like hidden bruises we carry our memories with us wherever we go. Colours, smells, even sounds can trigger them and as they flood back, unbidden and painful, they will rip you apart from the inside. Ben and Andrew broke my heart but I would re-live their story in the blink of an eye. Wonderfully uplifting yet woefully devastating at the same time, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is very special indeed.

Sarah Harper

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781912374298
Publication date: 30/09/2018
Format: Paperback

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About Louise Beech

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. Maria in the Moon was compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and widely reviewed. All three books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, ...

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