Today I am handing over to Mandie who has a review of The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden as part of the blog tour. A big thanks to Publisher, Tinder Press, who provided an advance copy for review, and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting us to join in. Here is what the book is all about:
The Book Bits
THE SIX LOVES OF BILLY BINNS is a deeply moving and honest debut set in London against the backdrop of the changing 20th century. it is reading group fiction perfect for those who loved the quirky pathos of Gail Honeyman’s ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE and the humour of Rachel Joyce’s THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY
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.
Billy Binns lives in a care home and is over 100 years old. He decides that in whatever time he has left he is going to write down about all the people he has really loved over his lifetime before his memory totally goes and he forgets everything. Going from his childhood, to the battlefields in the First World War, and back to Civvy Street you follow the story from Billy’s perspective as he meets, loves and loses several important people in his life.
On the face of it you would probably think this is a quick light read, but it isn’t. Yes there are moments in the book that will make you smile, especially when Billy is recalling his childhood with his best friend, but there are also moments when Billy is describing what it was like serving in the war and other events that seem brutally honest. I found the fact that he was trying to remember everything for his son quite touching, however it also showed just how, over time, memory can play cruel tricks on you and maybe things weren’t quite how you remember them.
Billy comes across as a quite likeable character that does make one or two bad judgement calls that have quite an impact on his life. Despite any regrets he may have, he makes the best of his life and somehow manages to get people to see the best in him. At the heart of the book is his love for his one-time fiancé Evie. They say you never forget your first true love and although Evie was not the first person he thought he loved, she was the one that had a lasting impact on him and he regretted the actions that took her from his life.
I will admit that at first I struggled with the way the book seemed to quickly flit between the past and the present , never settling in one area for too long which forced me to really concentrate on what I was reading, but I guess at the age Billy was, it was just how his mind would work. That being said it didn’t stop me enjoying the book especially once the story settled into a more regular pattern, spending more time in the past as he slowly revealed the story of his life. And it’s a story you really get drawn into. This is the first book by Richard Lumsden and I felt that by the end of it he was certainly more at home with the style and pace of the story. This book may not be for everyone but I would definitely recommend that you give it a try as otherwise you may miss out on a really enjoyable read.
About the Author
Richard Lumsden has worked as an actor, writer and composer in television, film and theatre for 30 years. As an actor his films include Downhill, Sightseers, Sense & Sensibility and The Darkest Hour, as well as numerous television shows and theatre productions. THE SIX LOVES OF BILLY BINNS is his first novel.
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