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The Lion Tamer Who Lost

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  366 ratings  ·  135 reviews

A heartbreaking, breathtakingly beautiful love story with a tragedy at its heart, from the critically acclaimed author of Maria in the Moon

‘Beech eloquently conveys their feelings and longings and sets atmospheric, vividly drawn scenes that transport the reader from grey and damp England to the searing heat of the lion reserve …The Lion Tamer Who Lost will touch the most

Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published July 15th 2018 by ORENDA BOOKS
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Louise Beech Yes, this is a male gay relationship. You should try it anyway, you may be surprised and enjoy!
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Average rating 4.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  366 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, blog-tour
A beautiful and poignant love story... A real and raw tale filled with heartbreak, hope, secrets, and truth... A book that seamlessly travels between past and present, Africa and the UK....

This is the story of Ben and Andrew, a love story fraught with prejudice and secrets.... I have to admit I had a bit of a soft spot for Andrew, there was something about him that just was so sweet (for lack of a better word).... you absolutely could feel the connection between these two and really wanted
The Book Review Café
Sometimes as a reader a book comes along that blows me away, it doesn’t happen very often I must say. There are books I love and books I will treasure forever and The Lion Tamer Who Lost by the superbly talented Louise Beech falls into the latter. As far as I’m concerned Louise Beech is the “queen” of story telling, this novel was such a compelling and emotive read, and so beautifully written I’m not convinced anything I write will convey how truly wonderful this book was. When Andrew and Ben ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One thing I love about Louise’s books, apart from the beautiful writing of course, is that that they are all so different. Who would have thought that a book about two men falling in love and a lion sanctuary would have worked but in Louise’s hands it turns into a poignant and emotional love story.

The story starts in Zimbabwe with 23 year old Ben. He is volunteering at The Liberty Lion Rehabilitation Project and fulfilling his lifelong wish of being with lions. Despite living his dream, he is
Helen (TBC)
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm hoping that I can find words to convey just how good this book is!

The Lion tamer Who Lost is a story about Ben and Andrew and a wish that Andrew once wrote down and kept in a silver box ... Ben lost his mum to cancer and has a difficult relationship with his 'playboy', prejudiced, old-school father, Andrew never knew his father. Many coincidences bring them together resulting in passionate love, tragic hurt, self-sacrifice and the ultimate relationship taboo .

For the fourth time in
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-tysm
3.5 stars

You can also find this review on my book blog.

I have seen this book on Twitter and saw that it’s LGBTQ+ so I immediately had to get a copy of it and read it! I found the synopsis of the book to sound very interesting because of different settings the story takes place in.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a book about two people, Ben and Andrew, who seem to meet each other in unusual circumstances and quite often. From the moment Ben sets eyes of Andrew [in a library] he falls for him and
S.E. Lynes
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Louise Beech does it again. The setting for this book alone makes it worth a read - the lion sanctuary in Kenya is a visual treat and, as ever, the lightly handled background metaphor of a place where damaged beings go to recover provides a sumptuous backdrop which does its work on the reader's subconscious while they enjoy the action of the story. Love, complicated families and the hurtful things people say and do to one another out of fear, love and ignorance feature here, as well as messy ...more
Tracy Fenton
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is absolutely no doubt that Louise Beech is an incredible storyteller. Each of her books are filled with beautiful and poignant messages.
The settings are always so descriptive and atmospheric and it’s easy to get utterly engrossed in her books.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is her latest novel and it’s difficult to review without containing spoilers.

This book is a love story, a tale of secrets, guilt, confusion, bigotry and shame, beautifully woven together through the narration of Ben and
Jack Jordan
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s official: Louise Beech could warm the coldest of hearts.

Every so often I come across a book where the characters are so well drawn and so beautifully flawed and real that I have to remind myself that they aren’t real once the book is over. Ben is definitely one of those characters for me. His frustration with life and love is so evident that it’s impossible not to feel it with him.

Heartbreaking and so profoundly moving.
Joanne Robertson
I left it quite late to read this new masterpiece from the wonderfully gifted author Louise Beech so when something happened in my family recently I realised that Louise’s book possibly wasn’t the best one to read at that particular time. The reason being that Louise Beech has an exceptionally rare gift of being able to evoke such strong emotions in her readers that I knew it would affect me deeply. And that if I started crying I probably wouldn’t be able to stop. But I LOVE Louise’s writing so ...more
Louisa Treger
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge admirer of Louise Beech’s writing and have loved her previous three novels. She is a wonderfully diverse author – all her books are completely different from one another – and she is a born storyteller, with the power to draw you into the world she creates and to make you emotionally invested in her characters. THE LION TAMER WHO LOST is every bit as compelling as its predecessors. There’s much exquisite writing and a great sense of place, transporting the reader to the vast open ...more
Laura Rash
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m gutted. Darn you Louise!
As with all of her books, LB has a way of sucking you into the story from the first page & wraps you into the characters so much you feel their every emotion. I lost count of how many quotes I wrote down to try and remember. I lost count of how many times I put the book down and sat in stunned silence & a few times in tears. Raw, emotional yet somehow hopeful this book is incredibly beautiful.
Thanks to Orenda for this early copy:)
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 - beautifully written
Kathy - Books & Munches
When I first heard of this book, I was intrigued immediately. It sounded like something I would pick up but.. on the other hand, it also sounded like something I wouldn't pick up - if you get what I mean. The LGBTQIA+ part of this novel immediately spoke to me, but I wasn't really sure about the homophobic impression I got from the blurb. I'm glad I ended up reading it anyway because.. I don't regret it one bit!

Of course, I'm starting with the thing I already mentioned. Both our main characters
A novel about a gay love affair and a lion sanctuary - you wouldn't think these two things would work together in a novel but they do. And the meaning of the title in particular when you realise what it really means is a nice touch and brings everything together.

It was fascinating to read the scenes set in a lion sanctuary especially when I discovered the author had never been to one. You'd never think it at all! Shows you the power of good research and the emotions you can evoke on the page
Yvonne (It's All About Books)

Finished reading: October 19th 2019

"He had nothing again. Nothing he knew, understood well, was familiar with.
But nothing is so much harder after you've briefly had something."

(view spoiler)
Mairead Hearne (
‘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
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Time taken to read - in and out over 2 days

Pages - 350

Publisher - Orenda

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn't...

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn't for the reasons he imagined...

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good grief. I need a minute. Or a lie-down. Or maybe a few stiff drinks to get past this huge lump in my throat.

I don’t really consider myself a particularly emotional person (although I did once cry at a diaper commercial but that’s another story), yet somehow Louise Beech always manages to rip out my heart, stomp all over it and leave me a big, unattractive, blubbering mess.

We first meet Ben in the magnificent surroundings of Zimbabwe, where he’s volunteering at a lion sanctuary. It’s rather
Jo Furniss
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The latest novel from Louise Beech tells the story of Ben and his older lover, an author called Andrew. After running away to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary, Ben recalls the events that drove him to fulfil a childhood wish to work with lions. What takes him home again, is a wish of another kind. For all its cinematic beauty and erotic charge, Louise Beech creates a melancholy air of doom. The romance feels precarious from the start, founded as it is on chance meetings, coincidences and even a ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, sad
Probably one of saddest love stories I have ever read. Beautifully written but oh so so heartbreaking and sad.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wishes and dreams are part of life, but what happens when the things you wish and dream for are not as you imagined they would be. Dreams are great, but if you follow your dream for an alternative motive then in reality it isn’t what the dream was meant to be. Andrew the wish-maker and Ben with the dream are meant to be together, but why…

This is a story that I just found myself being captivated with from the very start as I met Ben in Zimbabwe at a lion sanctuary. This is his dream and also a
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel of betrayal, redemption and love, set in Zimbabwe and Yorkshire

Love goes with us – it is light and has easy-to-grip handles and needs no passport

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is almost a book within a book. Andrew is writing a children’s book with the same title and by chance with a character who happens to be called Ben (book Ben) – and Ben in real life becomes his lover.

Andrew also has a wish box but although some ambitions may be realised, things can also turn out very differently than
Susan Hampson
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t think that anything could possibly compete with the beautiful scenes in this story, of Ben’s lifetime dream of going to Africa to work with lions, especially his connection with Lucy but wow was I wrong. That story itself would have made a cracking book in its own right but author Louise Beech takes destiny and fate to a climax that no other book has. This is one very special read that will not go away when you turn out the lights.
Fate had an uncanny way of throwing together Ben and
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
So I had purchased this book on my kindle a long time ago and finally got around to reading it. It was hard to get into with family around noisy playing board games (if you’ve played Avocado Smash you’ll know what I mean!) But once I did I was sneaking off to read all the time. I was interested to uncover Ben’s story as it played out, and to understand his and Andrew’s relationship. I’m not sure about Ben, he’s a bit of a strange cat. There’s a bombshell, and it really threw me! I felt quite ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“The lioness let her cub go. She didn’t want to. She knew what danger lurked in the shadows. But she also knew that a lifetime without fight was a lifetime without purpose.”

How is a book allowed to be so breathtakingly beautiful and tragically hopeful? How is something made up of mis-words and wishes and human mistakes so profound?

I smiled quietly like a boy who could tame lions because he had already lost. I soared across the colors of the savanna. I was a sobbing mess on the floor of a bleak
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
First of all this book needs more than 5 s! I am a reader not a writer, and throughout this book I kept thinking, “Nothing I can write will do it justice.”

This is the beautiful love story of Ben and Andrew. It takes place between England and Zimbabwe and yes, fantastically, there are lions! This is also the story of coming back to family despite incredible harm done.

About 100 pages in, I knew this book would destroy me. Toward the end, I repeatedly put it down, overwhelmed with emotion and
Gill Paul
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel about a gay love affair, about being who you are and who you want to be – and about lions! It opens in the Liberty Lion reserve in Zimbabwe, where Ben has volunteered and is sitting outside to watch the sunrise: “textured browns, like a tray of different flavoured toffees". Everyone there seems to be running away from something and Ben is no exception. Through his eyes and those of his boyfriend Andrew, we hear about their complicated love story.
The whole novel is skilfully woven
Alex (PaperbackPiano)
This was a wonderfully moving story. I went into this knowing very little and I would suggest other readers do the same. As the story unfolded, I became more and more invested, and fell deeper in love with the characters and the setting.

The writing was top quality, with evocative descriptions that reminded me of my time in Uganda (though I wasn't on a lion reserve!) I found it to be a very immersive reading experience. The writer deftly explores themes of love and family and creates a
Claire Dyer
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s hard to put into words how much I loved ‘The Lion Tamer Who Lost’. It’s a profoundly moving story about love in all its guises and good people trying to do good things. The passages about the lions in Zimbabwe are stunning. I can see the gold of their coats rippling in the sun. However, what’s of even greater value is that whenever I finished reading a section, the voice of the book carried on in my head as a gentle murmur, insistent and compelling. It stays me with still. Reading this book ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another good read from Louise Beech, I found this a bit slow to start with and wasn’t keen on the main character but it picked up and I warmed to him as the book went on
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Louise's debut novel, How to be Brave, was a Guardian Readers' pick in 2015 and a top ten bestseller on Amazon. The Mountain in my Shoe longlisted for the Guardian's Not The Booker Prize 2016. The Sunday Mirror called Maria in the Moon 'quirky, darkly comic, original and heartfelt'. It was also a Must Read in the Sunday Express and a Book of the Year at LoveReadingUK. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was ...more