I found “The Six Loves Of Billy Binns” thanks to a recommendation from our new Illustrations Editor Manon.
Our conversation began because I was curious as to whether she reads in French or in English.
Mainly English, she told me.
What are you reading at the minute? I asked.
She reached into her bag and produced “The Six Loves Of Billy Binns”.
How is it? I asked.
Unexpected — heart-breaking, she replied.
When Manon passed the book over to me, I noted its cheery cover — not unlike one of our blog post images.
A light, untaxing read lay within, I thought.
Billy Binns always said he was as old as the century.
Born just after the bells on January 1, 1900, he’s possibly the oldest man in Europe.
And as his life comes full circle, he wants to remember what love feels like one more time.
More importantly, he wants to commit that feeling to paper — a testament, if you will, for his son, Archie.
Archie is one of the loves who have shaped Billy’s life, along with Mary, Evie, Vera, and Mrs Jackson.
But when you’re as old as Billy, it’s tricky to remember everything clearly. People and facts get muddled up; memories slip away.
Billy tries his best to take us through the memories of his own life and loves, and of the century as it unfolded.
It’s full of surprises
This is one of those books that you can’t wait to get through, but which you don’t want to end.
It’s full of surprises, and warmth. It’s also hard-hitting, and tragic in places.
It reminds you how fleeting life really is, and you’ll feel so much better for having read it.
But mostly, it’s a celebration of being alive and being loved.
And that’s my only quibble.
Billy wants to feel love; showing that love, however, hasn’t always been a two-way street.
But perhaps that’s the whole point. Billy tells the story of his life honestly, flaws and all, as he makes his peace with his life and loves.
And along the way, he finds humour in the small indignities of growing old, and celebrates the small kindnesses that make life worthwhile.
“The Six Loves Of Billy Binns” is written by Richard Lumsden, and is available to buy now.
Be warned, though — it contains some strong language and references of an intimate nature.
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