William Lyon’s past forced him to become someone he isn’t. Conflicted and unable to maintain the charade, he separates from his wife and takes a job as caretaker at a former mental hospital. Jelley’s Valley State Insane Asylum was the largest mental hospital in California for well over a century, but it now stands empty. William thinks the decrepit institution is the perfect place to finish his dissertation and wait for his divorce to become final. In town, William meets Colby Anderson, who minds the local store and post office. Unlike William, Colby is cute, upbeat, and flamboyantly out. Although initially put off by Colby’s mannerisms, William comes to value their new friendship, and even accepts Colby’s offer to ease him into the world of gay sex.
William’s self-image begins to change when he discovers a tin box, hidden in an asylum wall since the 1940s. It contains letters secretly written by Bill, a patient who was sent to the asylum for being homosexual. The letters hit close to home, and William comes to care about Bill and his fate. With Colby’s help, he hopes the words written seventy years ago will give him courage to be his true self.
I truly have no idea where to begin when describing what I experienced while reading The Tin Box. It was breathtaking, gripping, haunting, and tender. The gamut of emotions this book brings up in the reader is awe inspiring. The Tin Box easily made my short list of most enjoyable reads all year.
—Gay Book Reviews
What a talent this author has for bringing us such a dark and sad topic, and balancing it with light and sweet scenes. By talking about a subject that isn’t really touched upon too often in this genre, and making us realize just how far we have come, and just how far we still have yet to go. I thank you, Ms. Fielding, for writing such an inspiring story that I know I will never forget.
This book is definitely a must read for everyone.
—The Novel Approach Reviews
The Tin Box is moving and heartfelt story that addresses a serious injustice of the past and present with a compassionate hand and a generous heart. Everyone should read this story. To celebrate how far we have come and to acknowledge the long road we still have to travel. Fielding shows us in here that even in our darkest hour, there is hope and light to be found.
When I finished the last page of this book, I had to take a deep breath and attempted to get my wayward emotions under control.
This is a powerful story, it had me crying, angry, frustrated and mad. It also had me laughing and smiling and happy.
I loved it…
I have been totally engrossed in this amazing emotional story. It was fun, romantic and sweet too … but I need time. Still breathless, speechless and there are so many emotions to process. I don’t know if I can “handle” to write so much about this book but hopefully my five stars says a lot.
It’s a really wonderful story that any gay man reading this review (and anyone sympathetic to gay and lesbian folk) should grab and devour. It’s so much more than the describing blurb might lead you to think.
This is extraordinary. I expected the great characters and story from this author, but the the ways the abandoned mental institution affect William, and Colby, elevates ‘great’ to ‘brilliant.’ I cried all the way through the last part, so, you know, have a box of tissues handy. Totally worth it.