I feel like it has been about five years since I have sat down and wrote a full review. Come on, brain. We can do this! *training montage plays* Here are my thoughts on Tin Man by Sarah Winman.
Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Publication Date: 27th July 2017
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Adult Fiction
Format: Paperback, 196 pages
Synopsis: It begins with two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything.
For the past few months, my Twitter feed has been full of praise for Tin Man by Sarah Winman. To celebrate the release of the book in paperback, the lovely Georgina from Headline Publishing offered to send me a copy to read and review. Thank you, Georgina! Even though I have heard of Sarah’s previous novels, such as When God Was a Rabbit, I hadn’t read them. I did consider whether to read them before starting Tin Man but on reflection, I decided to go into Sarah’s latest release without any prior knowledge of her work. With a nomination for the 2017 Costa Prize under its belt, I was excited to dive into the world of Ellis and Michael. Can I just quickly say, how dreamy is the front cover? *swoons*
All Dora Judd ever told anyone about that night three weeks before Christmas was that she won the painting in the raffle.
Our story starts in 1996 with an introduction to Ellis Judd. Living by himself, Ellis’ days are lonely and monotonous. After an accident leaves him unable to work, his perspective intertwines the past with the present as he reminisces about his youth. When Ellis was 12 years old, he is introduced to Michael, the new boy in the village. They quickly become best friends; inseparable. When Ellis’ mother’s health declines and his father forbids him from pursuing his passion for art, Michael is by his side. As they grow into young men, their friendship teeters on the edge of becoming something more. However, that changes when Ellis meets Annie.
With the story being told by both Ellis and Michael, their perspectives come together to form a tender and emotional tale of love and loss. I don’t want to discuss what happens in the book in too much detail, as I feel it is best if you go in blind. In my view, Tin Man, at its heart, is a story about love and how it takes different forms; romantic, unrequited, platonic, and unconditional.
The way Sarah writes is absolutely beautiful, almost bordering on poetic. When Dora Judd chooses a painting, a replica of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, as her prize instead of a bottle of whiskey, it is described as “her first ever act of defiance… like cutting off an ear”. I loved the portrayal of Dora gaining strength and confidence from the presence of a painting, especially as that particular painting awakened similar feelings in the artist himself. Even though there are so many other lines from the book I could include in this review, I won’t, as I want you to experience the magic of Sarah’s prose for yourself. I will, however, share with you my favourite line from the book:
And I remember thinking, how cruel it was that our plans were out there somewhere. Another version of our future, out there somewhere, in perpetual orbit.
I would recommend Tin Man to those who are looking for a different type of love story, one without any dramatic showdowns, explosive arguments or ultimatums. I personally think it would be great as a book club choice, as there are so many themes that can be discussed and debated. Tin Man may be the first book by Sarah Winman that I have read, but it certainly won’t be my last.