Tinder Press 24th January 2019
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 heartbreak and hope.
The Six Loves of Billy Binns is the story of an ordinary man’s life, and 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.
Billy Binns looks back on his life at the end of his days in a nursing home, the oldest man in Europe, his friends long gone, his memory not what it was and his physical health declining. His story is told through the lens of love, but with love comes loss and this is no happy tale as we observe the mistakes Billy makes and the heartbreak that follows.
I want to describe this as a ‘wordly’ book, insofar as Billy at well over a hundred has lived through 2 major wars, the first moon landing and so much more. Told in the first person, the experience was like listening to someone telling their life story, rich in experiences; good and bad, along the way. Living mostly in London the author captures I think the times as they were as Billy traverses through life, driving a bus through the blitz, years later strolling through a much changed London of his youth. A moving story, benefitted from the wisdom of hindsight. A life story as much as a book about love.
A life this long takes some telling and this book weighs in at just over 450 pages and in 5 sections as the stories unfold of Billy’s first five loves. With a theme of loss throughout, lost loves, lost chances and ultimately as Billy’s days draw to an end, loss of life. Despite his errors ( and there were many) Billy was an engaging character, ‘loveable rogue’ comes to mind. With a wisdom from maturity and a pragmatic approach, in addition to his loves, there are some entertaining encounters along the way. Weaved through the book are ‘here and now’ moments when Billy is in his care home, these are heartwarming as Billy is cared for among a motley crue of other elderly folk, whose proximity is determined by their care needs.
Reminiscent to Three Things About Elsie, the similarities being a life looked back upon from the final days or weeks of living. The stories are very different but I think the appeal would be the same and this is a warm and entertaining read that left me enriched from Billy’s life experiences, his ability to move on and try to make the best of things, his quest for love and desire to keep trying. A life lived, with moments of great joy and love when life feels perfect, accompanied with those desperately sad times that come with a life well lived.
A recommended read from me! Thanks to Tinder Press for the copy of the book to read at my leisure!
Thank you as always for stopping by.