Following on from the acclaimed success of A Year of Marvellous Ways and When God Was a Rabbit, actress, and literary writer, Sarah Winman has cast us under her spell yet again with her beautiful prose, as we follow the lives of Ellis, Michael and the understated Annie, in this exploration of character, sexuality, humanity and friendship as we discover more about this trio of complex characters, well certainly Michael and Ellis at least. To describe the plot is not easy, as this is definitely more a book about character than story, although you soon find that you become intrigued by the story behind the characters and that pulls you until you put this read down.
Basically it follows Ellis and Michael from their friendship at twelve years of age, set in the city of Oxford, and clearly cultured and interested in the arts, the two develop a bond, one stronger than you would initially suspect. A decade later we are introduced to Annie, who is the wife of Ellis, and that sparks an intrigue. There’s obviously something enigmatic about this book and these characters, as we delve into pasts and friendships as well as conversations about art and painting. With Van Gogh, the sunflowers and drawing referenced often throughout this short, punchy novel, art is a significant area in Tin Man, exploratory in it’s form, as much as in life.
Without giving too much away, this is a wonderful read about loss and despair, with prose that will pull you through the characters of Annie and Ellis, and certainly Michael. Winman has shown time and again that she keeps the readers interest, has an innovative style and pushes the rules and boundaries somewhat, intriguing anyone retreating from the real world. If the plot for the most part is lacking, the characters have enough going on to hold your attention, and she certainly took mine with this novel. There is poetic imagery throughout this text, and cultural references that sets it apart from other books that has art sitting at the core. But most of all, it is really about the characters.
Tin Man is out now, published by Tinder Press.