Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

G.P. Putnam’s Sons (May 15, 2018)

Review copy provided by Putnam

Description:

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 they jump off the page, Tin Man is a love letter to human kindness and friendship, and to loss and living. (publisher)

My take: Tin Man is a slim novel (224 pages) that made me overflow with emotions (yes, it really did) as I read the story of Ellis, Michael and Annie. It is about loss, betrayal, unconditional acceptance and, ultimately, love – in many forms.  It was sad and lovely and filled with lush (yet spare) descriptions that easily pulled me into each scene. From now on I’ll think of Tin Man when I see Vincent van Gogh’s sunflower paintings. Read the publisher’s description – if it sounds like a book you might like to try I think you should. I’m so glad I did. Book groups would find it a good discussion book. Many thanks to Putnam for sending a review copy.


Praise for TIN MAN:

“A beautiful book—pared back and unsentimental, assured, full of warmth, and told with a kind of tenderness that makes you ache.” —Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

“This is an astoundingly beautiful book. It drips with tenderness. It breaks your heart and warms it all at once.” —Matt Haig, author of How to Stop Time

“Such an exquisite package of literary merit.”—Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books

“Winman is a master storyteller…”—Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore

“…one of the most loving stories of our time.”—Luisa Smith of Book Passage

“Subtle, piercing, achingly beautiful…”—Marion Abbott of Mrs. Dalloways

Tin Man is a perfect read.” —Alison Reid of Diesel, A Bookstore

“A beautiful little book…”—Kurestin Armada of Little City Books

“It’s just perfect in every way.”—Maria Roden of Orinda Books

“I didn’t cry, but I ached.” —Todd Miller of Arcadia Books


About the author:

Sarah Winman is the author of two novels, When God Was a Rabbit and A Year of Marvelous Ways. She attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to act in theatre, film, and television. Sarah grew up in Essex and now lives in London.


 

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The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

  • Title:  The Confusion of Languages
  • Author:  Siobhan Fallon
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  June 2017 – Putnam
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance.
 
Written with emotional insight and stunning prose, The Confusion of Languages is a shattering portrait of a collision between two women and two worlds, as well as a poignant glimpse into the private lives of American military families living overseas. (publisher)

My take:  Two women whose husbands are stationed in Jordan are thrown together when Cassie, who has lived there a while, is volunteered by her husband to show newly arrived Margaret around. Cassie resents her husband for that and a host of other things. Most of all she’s angry about their infertility and now she has to spend a lot of time with Margaret and her toddler son. Margaret has issues of her own – not the least being the guilt she feels about a few things she’s done. I’ve known people like both women. Some of them are friends I adore. I have to say I’d want Cassie in my corner when the chips were down. But there were things I liked about Margaret that Cassie addresses in the epilogue.

This was a wonderful character study of two interesting and flawed women. Fallon drew me in with the interactions of the women and then expanded to their husbands and a few other characters. I couldn’t wait to get back to this novel each day just to see where it would lead. I loved the expat aspect – living in a country where you stand out by what you wear, how you interact with locals, etc. It all mattered. When cultures with glaring differences are thrown together there’s great opportunity for confusion on both sides. Margaret wasn’t always open to what Cassie tried to teach her about the culture of Jordan. To say the least! I also loved when Cassie and Margaret ventured out to various tourist sites. I could visualize the different places and have added them to my travel bucket list. I really enjoyed The Confusion of Languages and look forward to what Siobhan Fallon writes next.


The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

the husband's secret

  • Title:  The Husband’s Secret
  • Author:  Liane Moriarty
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  July 2013 – Amy Einhorn Books; Putnam
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.  (publisher) 

My take:  Three women, really no more than acquaintances, find out how very connected their lives really are.

I enjoyed The Husband’s Secret. It’s not a whodunit because the reader finds out way before the end of the novel. I think it’s more a whatwouldyoudo. That makes it a perfect choice for book groups. It also asks how far would you go to protect a loved one?

One minute it is dramatic and the next, quite funny. Liane Moriarty is a gifted storyteller. I loved her previous novel What Alice Forgot and I look forward to reading more of her novels. Recommended.

Note:  I also purchased the audiobook – narrated by Caroline Lee. If you enjoy listening to books I recommend this audio.

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

lost art of mixing

  • Title:  The Lost Art of Mixing
  • Author:  Erica Bauermeister
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  January 2013 – Putnam
  • Source:  I received a review copy from the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewer program

Synopsis (publisher)Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .
Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.

My take:  If you enjoyed The School of Essential Ingredients you’ll want to read The Lost Art of Mixing. Erica Bauermeister delves into the lives of characters from the first book.  We get to see sides of each that even the other characters never see.

This novel is a connected string of intriguing stories that explain the characters we thought we knew. Just as a recipe is the sum of its ingredients so are the characters a sum of their life experiences. Each strives to find connection to those they love but must rely on being accepted for themselves. To do that, they must accept others as they are. The mix will work or it won’t but, in the end, they’ll know if they should stay or move on – be part of this recipe for the life they want or find another that will work.

I really liked The Lost Art of Mixing. Humor and drama mixed evenly to become a novel that left me satisfied. I’d love to see where life takes these characters but even if this is where Erica Bauermeister leaves them I can’t wait to see what she writes next.