Tin Man (Winman)

Tin Man  
Sarah Winman, 2017 (2018, U.S.)
Penguin Publishing
224 pp.

An unforgettable and heartbreaking novel celebrating love in all of its forms and the little moments that make up the life of an autoworker in a small working-class town.

This is almost a love story. But it's not as simple as that.

Ellis and Michael are twelve-year-old boys when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers.

And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

With beautiful prose and characters that are so real that they jump off the page, Tin Man is a love letter to human kindness and friendship, and to loss and living. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—December 24, 1964
Where—Illford, Essex, England, UK
Education—Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
Awards—Costa Award, shortlisted
Currently—lives in London, England

Sarah Winman is a British author and actor, born in Essex County, England. After attending the Webber Douglas Aademy of Dramatic Art, Winman pursued an acting career in theater and film, turning to writing in 2011 with her debut novel, When God Was a Rabbit. That novel becme an international bestseller, winning her the designation "New Writer of the Year" from the Galaxy National Book Awards.

Four years later, in 2015, Winman published her second novel, A Year of Marvellous Ways. Her third, Tin Man, came out in 2017 and was shortlisted for that year's prestigious Costa Book Awards. (Adapted from the publisher and Wikipedia. Retrieved 8/25/2018.)

Book Reviews
Winman has crafted something of a small miracle here.… The slow build of emotion and the cascade of quet, well-earned tears are testament to how rich this meditation on love, art, loss and redemption truly is.
New York Times Book Review

Affecting.… [A] universalized fable of love and loss.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Complex characterization and emotional astonishments.… These are real people, in all their anxieties and quirks, their good intentions and their unfortunate choices, just as we all are. And all this is an impressive accomplisment, even for a novelist who already seemed to know the truth about humanity by heart and could spill it onto the page with ease.
Toronto Globe and Mail

A spare, physically small novel that feels epic.… The book is filled, like brush strokes on canvas, with the quiet moments of kindness and true friendship that make up a life.
Winnipeg Free Press

The most therapeutic emotional journey of the year.

(Starred review) [An] achingly beautiful novel about love and friendship.… Without sentimentality or melodrama, Winman stirringly depicts how people either interfere with or allow themselves and others to follow their hearts.
Publishers Weekly

A love triangle in the age of AIDS…. The narrative shifts back and forth in time—not always smoothly— … [and] the writing is overwrought …too dependent on illness and accident.… [Despite] affecting moments, the book tries too hard to be… soulful.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1.Tin Man is narrated by both Michael and Ellis, each in a different section. What was this reading experience like? Whose story is this?

2. The female characters in the novel are pivotal in Michael’s and Ellis’s lives—we see this through Dora and her kindness to Michael, Mabel taking in Ellis, and then Annie taking on Michael as almost an integral part of her relationship with Ellis. In what ways do these three women underpin Michael’s and Ellis’s lives, and their relationship?

3. What do you think the title, Tin Man, refers to? Discuss its possible meanings.

4. Discuss the use of the color yellow throughout the story, taking a close look at the van Gogh painting that features in the book.

5. How is Michael and Ellis’s relationship affected by the time and place they live in? Consider their childhood in Oxford, their summer in France, and their adult lives after Michael returns.

6. Discuss the different ways that grief and mourning are portrayed in Tin Man. Think about the reactions of Ellis, his father, and Michael after losing someone they love.

7. Ellis and Michael each describe their summer together in France in 1969. Discuss this pivotal time period and its impact on the characters, as well as your experience reading about it from two different points of view.

8. How does Annie connect with both Ellis and Michael? How did you see her role in the trio?

9. What do you imagine happens to Ellis after the close of the book? What kind of life do you hope he lives?

10  Do you think Tin Man is ultimately a sad story? A hopeful one? How did youfeel after reaching the end of the novel?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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