My head is always stuck in a book and from time to time my husband will ask, ‘what’s it about?’ On this occasion as I read Sarah Winmans third novel Tin Man I was stuck for the exact few words to describe what type of book this is. Because for me Tin Man encapsulates everything that great literature should be.
A Tin Man was the nickname given to labourers working to repair lightweight cold metal and that is exactly where we find Ellis a 46 year old widower working nights in a car plant smoothing out dents. Ellis made a promise to his dying mother to continue his art career but after her passing his father, stern and devoid of any emotion, wouldn’t allow it. So here we find Ellis swimming upstream against his desires dreams and emotions, avoiding the notion that perhaps he’s a hostage in someone else’s life – that in itself is a poignant part of the story, the loss of a life or never really becoming who one thought one would be.
Michael is Ellis’s childhood friend and we see how their relationship evolves as they grow together, apart and together again. The book is told in two parts, from the perspective of Ellis and then from Michael. The two tales although inextricably linked, are filled with colourful contrasts and alternate meanings.
I’m not attracted to a book for a particular genre a book doesn’t necessarily need to fall into the category of a thriller or a rom com; the best books are those that are great pieces of literature with multiple themes threaded through which is exactly what Tin Man is. Essentially though it is a book about loss and of ‘could have beens’
I felt hints at the literary novel ‘A little life’ with its themes of love affairs uncertainty of ones sexuality and the manner in which the book fleets between scenes, times and perspectives.
As usual Sarah Winmans poetic prose wins me over, scoops up my heart and keeps me engaged through her descriptions and narrative. She neglects the use of speech marks allowing the words to flow freely and making reading a sheer joy.
Tin Man is a shorter read and I highly recommend it. It would make a good book club choice for its multiple themes. It’s cosy and comfortable, so draw the curtains and immerse yourself in this delicious book.