“There’s something about first love, isn’t there? she said. It’s untouchable to those who played no part in it. But it’s the measure of all that follows.”
― Sarah Winman, Tin Man
Michael and Ellis were the best of friends and embraced life with exuberance as they grew up together exploring Oxford, England on their bikes in the late 1960s. When Annie joined them after college, they became a complete world unto themselves. They loved, they played, they ate and drank together. When this achingly beautiful book begins, these short halcyon days have become long-buried, bittersweet memories for Ellis . Gradually, the author peels away the layers of Ellis’s deeply-held memories to reveal their core—his first and most powerful loves.
As with life, this love story is complicated and nuanced. We learn that Ellis had wanted to be an artist but instead he works the late shift at an autobody repair shop. The reader learns that his wife Annie had been killed five years earlier in a car accident and wonders whatever happened to Michael. This is not a book for a younger reader or someone who is looking for happily ever after. This is a book for those who have loved and lost and yet still carry on with grace. It is a story about all different kinds of love—parental, marital, sexual and platonic–and how they resonate through the lives of Michael, Ellis and Annie.
Tin Man broke my heart and then gently patched it back together again. This is a love story for grown-ups and one I know I will revisit again. It would also be great for book discussions. Highly recommended.