Monday 21 January 2019

#BlogTour The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden. The life of an old man seen through his own frame of references. His sense of nostalgia about his escapades and relationships.

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.

Follow @lumsdenrich @TinderPress
Buy The Six Loves of Billy Binns

Billy Binns - A note from the author: I was twenty-seven in 1992 and living in Shepherd’s Bush when I first had the idea for this book. Inspired by old photographs on the walls of the library (now the Bush theatre) of trams on the Green, and an old white arch beside the central line station, I mapped out Billy’s story but became daunted by the amount of research required to detail all of the last century and turned to writing TV & radio scripts instead.

In 2000, I discovered a series of booklets published by the Shepherd’s Bush Local History Society. I phoned their secretary, Joan Blake, who invited me to their monthly meetings in the back of St Luke’s Church on the Uxbridge Road. Over the next few months I listened to stories of growing up in W12 through the 20s, 30s & 40s, and watched slide shows featuring the exhibition palaces and canals at White City. With the kind help of Joan and her friends I was finally able to get started. It took me eighteen months to research and write part one of the novel. Then, faced with more intensive bouts of historical research for parts two to five, I decided I wasn’t cut out to write novels and abandoned the idea.

By 2009, having already worked on a couple of plays for BBC Radio 4, I decided to write ‘The Six Loves Of Billy Binns’ as a play too. It still needed more research but a 45 minute radio script was less daunting than going back to the novel. In 2009 Sir Tom Courtenay gave Billy his voice, and the radio play, of which I’m very proud, still gets repeated from time to time. However, I knew I’d bottled out by not telling Billy’s story as originally intended.

In 2015 I turned fifty, and at a very different stage of life, twenty-three years after starting part one of the novel. A supportive literary agent encouraged me to get it finished. I went back to my Shepherd’s Bush Local History Society booklets and took another two years to complete a draft to send out to publishers.

It’s a story about love, disappointment, and the flaws that make us human. Billy has a tendency to re-interpret his own history, but ultimately he’s an ordinary man who lived an ordinary life, and I hope the readers might take him to heart on his journey to remember what love feels like.

About the book
The Six Loves of Billy Binns is a deeply moving, bittersweet century-spanning 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 warmth and humour of Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

At well over a hundred years old, Billy Binns believes he’s the oldest man in Europe and knows his days are numbered. 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 coloured his life - and the events that shaped the century - he recalls a lifetime of hope and heartbreak.
This is the story of an ordinary man’s life, an enchanting novel which takes you on an epic yet intimate journey that will make you laugh, cry, and reflect on the universal turmoil of love.

As Billy reminisces about his long life he does so from his care home and often when he is walking through the many memories he has. There are plenty of those after over a century of lived moments. At times it is hard to differentiate where Billy is at any given moment, sometimes he is right there in the moment and other times he is just muttering about the past.

It's a sweet premise, however it is defined by the one voice and one character approach to the story, which means a subjective experience. So with all of Billy's loves there is no attempt to view his story from anything other than his own, as opposed to his many loves and their points of view.

Perhaps Evie would have seen his escapades in a slightly more negative light, and his other conquests might have had a word or two to say about it too. It's written very much in a boys will be boys jargon with crude language and especially when referencing women's anatomy.

The story seems disjointed at times, perhaps because it has a screenplay or radio show feel to it. In fact I can imagine myself listening to Billy tell me all about his life, loves, trials and tribulations. It has the feel of a Hendrik Groen, but with less political posturing and wit. I think the charm it tries to evoke gets lost in the selfish and thoughtless actions of Billy. It's hard to engage with a character who is so fundamentally flawed and yet in awe of his own choices.

This is the difference between Billy Binns and Harold Fry or Eleanor Oliphant. The latter two acknowledge their imperfections and mistakes. As it stands Billy Binns is an old man living in the past thinking about the most important romantic connections in his life and how his choices determined his path in life. It's ambitious, but has a strange pull instead of a peculiar charm. The life of an old man seen through his own frame of references. His sense of nostalgia about his escapades and relationships.

Buy The Six Loves of Billy Binns at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Tinder Press; pub date 24 Jan. 2019

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