Where do I begin with this little book. This gorgeous little book.
Sarah Winman’s 213-page third novel, Tin Man, is the intense yet understated story of a love triangle, intimately told and beautifully rendered.
The first half of the book is narrated by Ellis, a middle-aged widower who works nights in an Oxford car plant. His present day is dark and lonely compared to the memories he revisits of his past with childhood best friend, Michael, and late wife, Annie.
The novel’s second half is told from Michael’s point of view. Here we see the boyish relationship between Ellis and Michael intensify into a teenage love affair over nine days in the south of France. It is Bridges of Madison County-esque in the best possible way.
At one point, Michael is reading Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and describes it as “a poem about grief.” He might as well have been describing Tin Man itself. Be still my broken heart.
Winman’s tender observations about relationships—“He built the fires and Annie opened the wine, and the years rolled out. Thirteen, to be precise. Thirteen years of grapes and warmth."—and stunning descriptions of scenery—“petals of pink and white and fuchsia fall on me and I imagine myself a garlanded pyre alight under the fiery sun.”—make this novel simultaneously haunting and beautiful. I found myself glued to every riveting page.
The ending did leave me bewildered though and I can’t tell if that’s good or bad or some ungodly combination of both.
Best paired with a tray of bread and fruit and cheese and an opened bottle of Chianti Ruffino.