From the beginning, life shows that it could be unbelievably cruel to Tilly, a young girl born in Bilston in the Black Country of the English Midlands. Orphaned at the age of ten, Tilly is sent to live in a convent before being placed into service on a dairy farm. When she turns eighteen, she meets a kind, hard-working man named Jim, falls in love, and marries him. Together, Tilly and Jim raise a large family in a rustic Tin House—five of their nine children born before they even install indoor plumbing.
Daily living at the Tin House presents constant challenges to the struggling family. During one rough winter, Jim is forced to cut down seven of their precious apple trees as well as sacrificing his daughter's precious piano in order to keep everyone warm. Several of the children endure injuries and accidents; a stern, well-to-do aunt even attempts to buy one of Tilly's children to raise as her own. The eldest daughter suffers through a physically abusive marriage, before finally finding her way home to safety.
But at the Tin House, where a cast of quirky friends and beloved relatives congregate on weekends and the neighborhood kids gather for sledging parties, bonfires and games of rounder and tracking in the fields, the kettle is always on for a cuppa, and no one ever goes hungry.
The Tin House is a celebration of Tilly's life, through the humorous times as well as the heartbreaking. Above all, it's a reminder of the sanctity of family and a parent's unconditional love for her children, no matter how difficult life may sometimes seem.
- Derwent Press, June 2012
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