I was familiar with Sarah Winman’s previous works prior to reading her third novel, Tin Man, but hadn’t got round to read them. I had heard good things about previous novels When God Was A Rabbit and A Year Of Marvellous Ways so was delighted to receive a beautiful proof copy of Tin Man which is to be published next month.
I had seen several positive reviews for Tin Man already so had high hopes for it and I was not disappointed. I began reading on a lazy Sunday afternoon and had turned the final page by the evening. And whilst at just short of 200 pages this is relatively short novel, there is so much beauty and so much wonder packed within. Tin Man is ultimately a story of love and friendship. The main characters we meet are two men who met as boys and became inseparable, Ellis and Michael. The novel is told in two parts, with one part focusing on Ellis’ story and the other providing Michael’s perspective. The events switch back and forth through time, and we begin by seeing Ellis in 1996, a 46-year old working night shifts at the car plant, dealing with the grief of a loss that still haunts him five years on. From the present day we also see memories from the past, seeing Ellis grow into a young man and develop relationships with friends Michael and Annie, a woman who walks into their life, and changes it forever. The part dealing with Michael’s story is told in the first person and is a diary of sorts, as he helps to fill in the gaps of this extraordinary story of love and loss. And I found reading these accounts to be very moving, as we seen the full picture of their lives together and apart.
I was quickly drawn into this story from the prologue in which we meet Ellis’ mother Dora, as she chooses a sunflower painting as a raffle prize, a first act of defiance against her husband. And Dora is one of several wonderful characters that are well rounded and beautifully portrayed. There were many characters that I cared for, who left an impression on me with their individual stories that were hauntingly beautiful. I don’t want to go into too much detail about how their stories develop but will say that this is a novel that covers many themes. It is a story of the strength of love and friendships through the years. It also explores grief and loss, and fear. It also focuses on sexuality and art – with Dora’s sunflower painting being almost symbolic. Sarah Winman writes beautifully and this book is filled with wonderful prose that captures the complexity of the characters emotions and their intricacies, with passages of writing that linger on the mind. The two different perspectives resulted in a fully formed account of the lives of Ellis, Annie and Michael – three lives intertwined, real human stories. I felt a little sad to be leaving these characters behind, as their stories stuck with me long after the final page.
Tin Man is a beautiful little book full of heart that tells a story of human love and companionship. It shows love at its most wonderful, and love at its most challenging. It shows friendship that can stand the test of time, and the bonds that can tie us together through the years, even when we are apart. I enjoyed this book very much, and felt privileged to spend a few hours in the company of these fascinating characters.
Tin Man is to be published on 27th July 2017 by Tinder Press. Many thanks to Katie Brown at Tinder Press for providing a proof copy for review.