Loves and Desires

English women excel

By Ralph McAllister

Two exquisite stories written by young English women whose futures are surely secure.

Frustrations, repression and unhappiness are common and central to both novels and yet, finally, the reader is left with a sense of exhilaration and understanding of lives lived and achieved.

Touching love story

Tin Man by Sarah Winman is a third novel after When God was a Rabbit and A Year of Marvellous Ways, and is probably her best yet.

Ellis works in a paint shop in Oxford and his reflections take him back to his inseparable friendship with Michael when they were both adolescents.

They were in love, innocents, for a while, and then deeply sexually together.

Anne arrives and marries Ellis and the three become very close.

Sarah Winman

The second half of the novel is told from Michael’s perspective and explores the what might have beens, the longings, the despairs and the sadness of lives together and apart.

It is a touching delicate love affair of three flawed yet beautiful people and will reduce many to tears in the reading.

Shades of Call Me By Your Name spring to mind.



A cracker of novel first up featuring W H Auden

Polly Clark’s first novel Larchfield shimmers and glows with magical accounts of two lives.

W H Auden

W.H Auden is teaching boys at a college in Helensville in western Scotland.

He is just beginning to be recognised as a poet, loathes teaching but needs the money.

Pupils and staff have great trouble accepting this inarticulate young gangling giant.

He already displays many of the egocentric quirks that became well known in later life.

He hides his homosexuality for obvious reasons but cannot suppress his desires and his friend Isherwood helps by taking him off for sleazy jaunts in 30’s Berlin.

As you might gather part of this fiction is based on fact.

The sad case of Dora

The other half of this novel introduces us to modern day pregnant Dora who is a great admirer of Auden’s poetry and has gone so far as to move into premises in Helensville once inhabited by the poet.

Like Auden, she is a misfit, who alienates most of the tightly repressed community.

Despite her husband’s support, she begins to descend into a depression which results in her beginning to relate more and more to the dead Auden.

This is the magical part of a wonderful study of love and desire and despair, as in Tin Man. 

Mind boggling how Clark in a first novel delivers an account of, yet again, flawed yet deeply etched and empathetic characters.

Please read both.

You won’t regret.

Ralph, whether I get around to actually reading the books you review (sometimes!) is no double a remiss on my part,but I enjoy reading the reviews.Thanks, Don

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