Having just finished this novel about five minutes ago… all I can say is WOW! My regard for literary fiction increases every time I read such a quality novel.
This is a novel about three people, two men and one woman who have a bond that is stronger than most people will ever experience.
Dora Judd is a stifled woman. A housewife in the 1950s, she is under the thumb of a domineering husband. Her life holds little joy and is as colourless as the brown rooms of her home. When she wins a copy of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers‘ at a raffle, she guards the painting fiercely. It is her little bit of colour in a drab existence. When she gives birth to her son, Ellis, love and joy once again are a part of her life. She recognizes her son’s artistic talent and encourages his efforts. When Dora passes away, his father demands he give up such a foolish pastime – so at sixteen years old he begins work as a panel beater at the Cowley car plant in Oxford. Hence Ellis Judd, our protagonist, is the ‘Tin Man‘ of the title.
1963 We meet Michael our second protagonist as a motherless boy who is taken in by a caring woman named Mabel. At twelve years of age he meets Mabel and also Ellis for the first time. These two people will show him the exquisite nature of acceptance for the first time. Michael is gay. Since his mother died, his father has realized Michael’s true nature and has shunned him from his affections.
Michael and Ellis are boyhood friends – and for a brief time during a trip to France, they are more than friends… Ellis is the love of Michael’s life.
When Ellis introduces Michael to Annie, they love one another immediately. The trio share a friendship deep and true.
“I could never bring anyone into our three. I had no room to love anyone else.”
Annie is the love of Ellis’s life. Skip ahead in time and Ellis Judd is forty-five years old. His life’s joy has vanished with the passing of his beloved wife, Annie. He has chosen to work the night shift at the plant since Annie’s death as he cannot sleep at night anymore. They had thirteen loving years together. Now she is buried in the same cemetery as the author, C.S. Lewis.
Winman is a storyteller with enviable prowess. She writes with deep compassion and empathy for all of her characters. Because of this, they become very real to the reader and their pain becomes your pain, their joy becomes your joy.
“Tin Man” is a book about acceptance, loneliness, heartbreak, grief and loss. A novel of true love and the myriad forms that it comes in…
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Edelweiss. This is my honest review of an exemplary novel.
Sarah Winman (born 1964) is a British actress and author. In 2011 her debut novel When God Was a Rabbit became an international bestseller and won several awards including New Writer of the Year in the Galaxy National Book Awards. “Tin Man” is her third novel. She now lives in London, England.