The Tin Nose Shop; brutally beautiful

I was really attracted to read The Tin Nose Shop by American author Don J. Snyder for various reasons; first it is inspired by an extraordinary real life story from the First World War; I love the title of this novel, it is so unique and quirky; and lastly, the book cover of this novel is really intriguing and appealing.

The Tin Nose Shop is an intense piece of historical fiction that is brutal and beautiful. For readers like me who love historic fiction, especially war fiction, this is a truly fascinating and powerful read. It is also extremely poignant as it explores the true impact of war on the individual, on relationships and on the wider society. It is a raw portrayal of how the authorities can try and hide their mistakes and their guilt behind a mask, yet the demons and the ugly truth can never remain concealed.

Set in 1916, it is the story of artist Sam Burke who has been sent to Northern Ireland after fighting on the battlefields of France. He is a young broken man haunted by the death of his best friend Ned who brutally died next to him at the Battle of Verdun. Furthermore, he is consumed by guilt as Sam failed to keep his promise to Katie, his other best friend from childhood and Ned’s widow.

Sam has narrowly escaped death by firing squad after being found guilty of cowardice when Ned was killed next to him. He is now ordered by the military to use his artistic skills to create masks for the men facially mutilated in the war.

Sam finds himself at a castle on the Northern Irish coast, where he, along with Oliver, a pastor and veteran from the Boar War develop what one of the soldiers they help fondly calls the ‘Tin Nose Shop.’ Here Sam tries to hide behind his own mask as he battles his demons. Yet will Oliver let Sam hide?

Set against the backdrop of the brutalities of war, the Easter Rising in Ireland and the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, The Tin Nose Shop is a moving read that is rich in historical detail. It is a powerful and compassionate portrayal of what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I am so pleased that in a small but powerful way the poetry of Wilfrid Owen features in this novel. I, like many people studied Owen’s poetry at school and it has always remained with me. I feel that The Tin Nose Shop is a continuation of the important messages Owen was expressing through his poetry, important messages that we can never forget.

Mental health is a theme that runs through this novel. As well as exploring PTSD and the impact of grief, it also explores post-natal depression. PTSD is something that is very close to Don J. Snyder’s heart as he is the founder and Chief Executive of the Caddie School for Soldiers in Scotland. It was the soldiers who attended the school who inspired Snyder to write this poignant novel.

Thank you to Olivia Le Maistre from Legend Press for inviting me to kick off the blog tour of this very moving novel. To follow the blog tour, please see below.

The Tin Nose Shop is published by Legend Press on Friday 1 July 2022.

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