About the Book
It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.
And then there are 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.
There is a quotation from Ellis’s mother that is mentioned a few times in this glorious book – ‘Men and boys should be capable of beautiful things.’ Dora only appears for a short time in this book but she was a character I warmed to instantly.
The novel concerns three friends Ellis, Michael and Annie. After a short but entertaining prologue, where you realise what type of woman Dora is, it moves forward in time to 1996. Ellis is in his mid-forties and struggling to move on from the death of his wife and best friend five years earlier. When he has an accident, and is off work he recalls his relationship with both of them.
I had never read any of Sarah Winman’s earlier novels so had no idea of how beautiful her writing was. Tin Man is only a short novel which I read in a day. But despite being short it has plenty of detail. There was the loss of loved ones, how they coped at the time and in later life. Ellis’s attempts to repair the relationship with his father which gave him the push to fulfil is promise to his mother. When the narrative switched to Michael it detailed how loyal he was to those he connected with. The time he gave to G. and Chris was humbling.
It was just the right length of novel, it is ram packed with emotion. If it had been longer it probably wouldn’t have had the same impact. Despite only making brief appearances Dora and Mabel showed that they wouldn’t be beaten or bullied into submission. Or turn away from somebody who needed love.
Tin Man was a novel that will stay in my thoughts for some time.