Midweek MWiDP Review: Have YOU Heard of Tom Winton? – by Gerry McCullough

Gerry McCullough is back with us again with yet another review of one of the MWiDP authors’ books. This time it’s the turn of Tom Winton, who featured here on MWi way back in the spring with his debut novel Beyond Nostalgia, which went on to achieve great success.

I’m going to come back to Beyond Nostalgia in the near future, simply because it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. But today is about his second novel, The Last American Martyr.

Tom is one of the great romantic writers of the twenty-first century, and I’m happy to commit to writing that I believe Beyond Nostalgia will become a classic down the years, and while a slowburner, as romance novels so often are, this book will still be selling long after upstart thriller-writers like ourselves have been forgotten.

But Tom is a writer who wears his heart on his sleeve, and it shows in his work. Tom is someone who cares deeply about social injustice, and that shows in his work too.

His latest novel, The Last American Martyr is about … Well, I’ll leave that to Gerry. Let’s just say Tom has blended two distinct genres – thrillers and romance – to produce what I can’t but describe as a romantic thriller.

If anyone reading this has been supporting, or was in any way sympathetic to, the recent (and continuing) Wall Street protests then this book is perfect for you.

Here’s Gerry:

Have you heard of Tom Winton?

If not, this is where you do, and afterwards are properly grateful to me for the introduction, I’m quite sure.

I first ‘met’ Tom on Authonomy where he, like me, was slogging it out in the long battle which was supposed to lead to a publishing deal with Harper Collins. Of all the thousands (yes, literally) of books of which I read the first part on that site, Tom’s Beyond Nostalgia stood out among a tiny handful of books which were ones any publisher with any sense should have grabbed. (And he was kind enough to say something similar about my own Belfast Girls.)

Tom, unlike me, didn’t feel obliged to stick it out until the end, a disappointing review which, in my case, said nice things but definitely didn’t offer a publishing deal unless I rewrote the book as either a romance or a thriller. Instead, he pulled out, and went on to achieve great success on YouWriteOn. Meanwhile, he found that Tim Roux of Night Publishing was only too happy to publish Beyond Nostalgia; and the sales in the USA have been in the thousands.

Beyond Nostalgia starts by going back to the sixties, when the main character, Dean, was a teenager, in New York, and to the love affair which he remembered even through the happy but poverty-stricken marriage of his adult years with Maddy. I don’t intend to spoil the story for you, but although this book has mainly been pushed as a romance it is much, much more. The slummy background of New York years ago is beautifully presented and springs to life from the beginning. The financial struggle of Dean and Maddy to live is realistically detailed. The characters, especially the narrator, are immediate, real, vivid. The social background, the poverty and its effect on the characters, is of major importance, and the relationship between this man and his wife is delicately and poetically drawn. The twist in the plot is gripping and page-turning.

It’s no surprise that so many have wanted to read this book.

But now Tom Winton has surpassed himself. In his new book, just out, The Last American Martyr, Tom has taken his writing ‘to infinity and beyond.’ This book has all the detail, the gritty reality, the living characters, of the first, but in its theme Tom Winton plunges yet deeper again.

The main character, another Tom, has won a Nobel prize for his first and only book, which exposes the corruption and greed of the world’s economy, and moves millions all over the world to rise up in protest to bring about change. But this has put Tom in fear of his life, so that he has been forced to hide out, after some horrific experiences, from his enemies in Big Business.

The brutal truth, the up close reality, of Tom Winton’s writing on this very important subject, should make his book as equally influential and successful worldwide as that of his character, if there’s any justice.

One thinks of books like Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye or Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and it’s instinctive to place The Last American Martyr beside them, as one which will impact a generation.

This may seem an extreme thing to say. But to me, Tom Winton stands out as a writer to be remembered.

Already I’m looking forward eagerly to see what this amazing man will have for us next.

Thanks Gerry.

Now you may be thinking Gerry has got a bit carried away there suggesting Tom Winton is on par with Salinger or Steinbeck. That’s a huge call to make.

So let me repeat it. Tom Winton is on par with Salinger and Steinbeck.

Tom’s debut Beyond Nostalgia is comparable in social sweep, emotional depth and social significance to Gone With The Wind. It will make a great film one day.

The Last American Martyr is a very different product, and the comparison made by Gerry to The Grapes of Wrath perfectly sums up those differences.

Both books are fantastic reads.

Yes, we now handle the UK distribution for Tom, but that’s only in the past month. I’ve been saying these things about Tom’s work since April, when I first came across him.

Tom and I have discussed the possibility of co-writing a future novel with Saffi, and while that has yet to get beyond discussion because of other commitments, if it ever does come to fruition it will be one of the true highlights of my career.

***

Tom’s latest book The Last American Martyr is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk, along with his debut novel Beyond Nostalgia (amazon.com here, amazon.co.uk here)

Gerry McCullough will be back next week on MWi with a review of Wendy and the Lost Boys by Barbara Silkstone.

Gerry blogs regularly over at Gerry’s Books. And if you like her reviewing style you’ll love her books.

Her debut novel Belfast Girls is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Her latest novel Danger Danger is of course also available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

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  1. Gerry and Mark, what can I say? Thank you both for this fine post. I’m flattered beyond words and blushing crimson. You guys are the greatest!

  2. Nice review, Gerry!
    Hey, Tom. Your modesty is just another colour on your author palette. As you know, I read Beyond Nostalgia all through, way back, and recognised your talent for romance. I must find time for The last American Martyr.

  3. Well deserved, Tom, well deserved.

  4. Tom, it’s just a straight, honest review!

  5. Wow. High praise indeed. From two people whose opinions I respect. Also, this is the kind of sweeping story I love to get lost in. OK, they both go on my must-read list. Thanks for this Mark and Gerry!

    • Anne, Beyond Nostalgia is one of those rare reads that you makes you reluctant to start a new book because you just know it can’t compare. After finishing BN way back earlier this year I went almost a week unable to get into any new book, which is pretty much unheard of.

      And a big bonus for us writers is that the MCs in both of Tom’s books are authors, and for totally different reasons the books they write change their lives.

  6. Thanks, Ruby/Mark, and Anne. I really appreciate your comments.
    Tom deserves, and needs, all the sharing and support he can get. A very nice guy – but also a first class writer, who appeals to both men and women, not an easy task. My husband read his first book, Beyond Nostalgia, recently, on my recommendation, and was moved to write a review of it (5 star!). I expect he’ll be making time for The Last American Martyr soon.

  7. Thanks everybody! You’re all terrific, and I feel very fortunate that we’ve crossed paths.

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