BEECH PROVES THERE’S NO TAMING THIS LITERARY LIONESS

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thumbnail_Lion Tamer front cover finalWishes are an amazing facet of life. They help us get through tough times, allowing is to believe in and live for something in the future that will make us happier. There are different ways of wishing, some people wish upon a star, others make one on blowing out a candle or pulling apart the  wishbone of a chicken.

It is often said; be careful what you wish for. As we found out last week. For a couple of months now myself and my wife have played with an idea about adding to our furry four-legged brood, by getting another cat. Well a month ago, we found one and it arrived last week. Now we have a fur ball  lightning bolt who seems to have been crossed with a free runner and a football hooligan. This month’s book also features cats, big ones and a story about  long held wishes and what can happen when they eventually come true. The book is “The Lion Tamer Who Lost” by Louise Beech, published by Orenda Books (www.orendabooks.co.uk), on the 30th September.

Ben and Andrew meet by chance in the local library. Ben is there to write an essay for university and Andrew is doing research for his book. What follows is an intense relationship which takes over both their lives, but no sooner has it begun then Andrew is struck down by Leukemia and a simple blood test reveals more than just love and lust between the two men. Because of this they part company and Ben, driven by the bigoted views and the wandering crotch of his old man, follows a promise he made to his dying mum to go to Africa to help at a lion reserve. Andrew also made a wish when his was a young boy and keeps it in a silver box. Despite the miles between them and Ben’s relationships with a lioness called Lucy and Esther a fellow volunteer, he can’t forget his feelings for Andrew. Six months on Ben and Esther’s relationship forces them home to where they must make some life choices together. But what of Andrew? has he moved on? Will he be happy to see Ben and can Ben also be upfront with Esther  and his family about his sexuality?

This is the second of Louise’s books that I’ve read, the other being her debut novel, How To Be Brave. What I realised having read both, is that she has this amazing power to take simple stories and make them into heart-warming, emotionally driven tales that stay with the reader well after you’ve put down the book.

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Louise Beech

Whether she’s describing the view of witnessing an African sunrise or the disparity between different generations of working-class English families, every character and scene is so vivid and believable you can’t but feel you are there or say to yourself, “yes, I’ve been in a situation like that.”

A prime example can be found in her first book, which had an annoying little child as the main character in it. You do eventually warm to her character and to the difficulties she was facing, as she comes to terms with a diabetes diagnosis. This is thanks to Louise’s talent which proves she is a writer with immense skill far beyond the four books she has produced.

Diabetes is also a theme running through this book, with Andrew being the one dealing with his body’s wayward sugar levels. This comes down to the fact that Louise’s own daughter is a diabetic and her experiences come through n both books, having not read the others I can’t say if its a theme in all her books. In the Lion Tamer Who Lost, she gives you two strong males who are very much in love and weaves an emotional story of the bond between two gay men and shows no matter how hard you try, once you’ve met your destined mate, nothing is going to come between you. Well almost nothing…

Yes, like her debut novel, this book, really tugged at my heart strings and I dare any male out there, not to feel some twinges while reading it.

As for its length, at a tad over three hundred pages, it’s light and easy to read, although some of the chapters could be a bit confusing as they jump back and forth between the main characters and various times. There is a lot going on in the book: gay love, heterosexual relations and inter family relationships. At times, it does come across like a bit of a kitchen sink drama, with shades of an episode of Channel Fours “Queer As Folk”, but Beech never lets it get too in your face.

This is English Author Louise Beech’s (www.louisebeech.co.uk) fourth book, her othersLioness being How To Be Brave (2015), The Mountain In My Shoe (2016) and Maria In The Moon (2017). She lives In Hull with her family and when she’s not writing, she can be found working front of house at The Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play “Afloat” was performed in 2012.

So, if you are looking for loving crafted,  heart-warming and page turning read to welcome in the darkening evenings of the approaching winter, go pick up a copy  at your local book shop or download a copy. Then afterwards read Louise’s other books and prepare to be taken on a magical tour through the wonderful imagination and writings of one the North of England’s rising literary stars.

 

This book was reviewed as part of a Random Things blog tour, see the poster below for the other reviewers and visit their blogs to see what they thought.

The Lion Tamer Blog Tour Poster Final

ENRIGHT’S GREEN ROAD IS SO FAR OFF THE BEATEN TRACK, EVEN YOUR SAT NAV WOULD TELL YOU TO AVOID IT

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green-road cvrA couple of weeks ago my Fiancée and I went to a local Tapas restaurant, we’d been given a voucher by a neighbour for rescuing their cat from being savaged by dogs in the wee small hours of a Saturday morning a couple of weeks previously. The cat subsequently died en route to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital. Anyway back to the Tapas restaurant, my Fiancée doesn’t get Tapas, as opposed to ordinary restaurants where you read the menu and order a dish for starters, main course and desert. Whereas in Tapas it’s basically order small dishes from all over the menu as often as you want until you feel full. Me I was brought up by a father who told me to go through life with an open mind and equally broad palate. My Fiancée on the other hand will never get Tapas and that’s fine, because that brings me to this month’s book. It’s The Green Road by Anne Enright.

Anne is a local author, well she was until recently, when  she moved from Bray further into south County Dublin. Like my fiancée and Tapas, I’ve never liked Anne’s work and probably never will. It may come down to the fact, that I believe there is a lot to being Irelands Inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction then winning The Booker. There are bigger and better Irish writers out there who’ve never won an  award and are more deserving of this title – One swallow does not a summer make.

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Anne Enright – On Bray beach

 

The book deals with emigration and the family and how it grows apart as time goes by. Rosaleen Madigan is an elderly woman living on the west coast of Ireland, her four kids have all flown the nest and made new lives for themselves, some far beyond these shores. One day she decides she’s going to sell the family home and divide the proceeds. The brood  are summoned home for one last Christmas, which leads to their various idealologies and ego’s competing for attention in this confined space. Then amidst this fractious atmosphere Rosaleen goes missing. Will they find in her in time, out there in this barren and unforgiving countryside on a stormy Christmas day? Will the children pull together in this crisis?

The Green Road isn’t a great book it’s an okay book, it reminded me of most of the middle of the road American drama’s you see on Hallmark TV, set in the Midwest about family’s gathering for thanksgiving. It’s people coming from far and wide to spend one day in each others company. We don’t like it, we do it because its tradition and we hope it’ll be all happy families, it’s usually a very poor attempt. That’s mainly down to the pressure to live up to the images presented on TV, magazines and newspapers.  Just like that, this story is a well worn one and it’s been done on film and TV much better, the characters are stereotypical , there’s a gay member of the family, a brother who is trying to find himself by doing charity work in Africa and a sister who does everything for everyone but never gets any thanks .

I may have read all the way through the book, that doesn’t mean I liked it, Imaking babies cover only it finished because she is or was a local author and I felt I should give her the benefit of the doubt. Hah! It was a waste of time; I could’ve easily thrown it down after the first couple of pages if I didn’t know her. The start is laborious and even though it picks up pace slightly midway, the ending is predictable.

This is Dublin born Enright’s ninth book of fiction, published in 2015 by Jonathan Cape. The others include My Portable Virgin, The Wig My Father Wore, The Gathering and Taking Pictures, as well as a collection of short stories called Yesterdays Weather and a book of non-fiction called Making Babies; you can guess what that’s about.

So take my advice, give The Green Road a miss. Take an alternative route to your literary enjoyment. Maybe even see if she can make a better effort on writing about motherhood. Better still go for  Tapas.