I was lucky enough to attend a fantastic event a few weeks ago when Headline publishers brought six of their debut authors to Edinburgh for #NewVoices2019. Those of us who attended were able to pick up copies of all the books by the authors, with the exception of one which isn’t published till much later this year. One of the authors was Richard Lumsden and, yes I was a little starstruck since I remember him acting in one of my favourite films, Sense & Sensibility, where he played Robert Ferrars. But he was there to chat about his debut novel The Six Loves of Billy Binns and what a book it is!
Billy Binns is a long term resident of a nursing home and at the age of 117 is thought to be the oldest man in Europe. Feeling that time is running short, he decides that he is going to record his memories and in particular, his memories of all those he has loved. Using a borrowed typewriter, from the comfort of his armchair, he begins to type the story of his life.
Richard Lumsden shows his talent with wonderful storytelling which drew me into Billy’s world. I felt I lived through all his experiences throughout those long years with him. His experiences in WW1 were particularly harrowing to read about. His story is the story of the 20th century and through Billy’s thoughts, we hear of the significant moments throughout that time.
Billy is trying hard to recall all those he has loved and how they came into his life. The memories come and go, as Billy’s thoughts move between the past and present. The way the author has captured Billy’s sometimes confused thoughts made for poignant reading. He forgets some crucial episodes that you would think someone would never forget and yet at other times, his recall is crystal clear
I sometimes despaired of Billy choices as he made some terrible decisions, some that would have repercussions throughout his life. But who among us hasn’t done something that, when we look back, hasn’t been the wisest or best thing? Billy is a flawed character which only serves to make him more human and to my mind, more likeable.
Richard Lumsden has created a wonderful protagonist in Billy Binns, a character who will stay in my mind for some time. In this superb debut novel, he proves himself to be an excellent writer, one who writes with such an engaging style that I found it hard to put this book down. A moving and sometimes funny story of loss and regret but above all, a story of love.
Thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book. The Six Loves of Billy Binns is available now as an ebook and in paperback. You will be able to buy or order it from your usual book retailer. If you would like to buy a Kindle copy, you can do that here: Billy Binns
From the back of the book
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.
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.