Sunday Review: Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Last year, I saw the movie adaptation of Call Me By Your Name which I loved so much and have been intending to read the original book version for quite a while. When I popped into my local Chapters recently and they didn’t have a copy, this one ended up getting recommended to me instead. This was a beautifully written story. Although intensely evocative of the character’s memories, it remained subtle and delicate.

Sarah Winman is known from her breakout debut novel, When God Was a Rabbit, and has since also written A Year of Marvellous Ways

Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Tin Man by Sarah Winman Credit: Penguin Random House

Tin Man centres around Ellis and Michael and their friendship and complicated love. This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that. This story tracks from their budding friendship at twelve, growing into something more, before losing touch during adulthood. Tin Man is a slow-moving novel that focuses more on analyzing emotion and past memories than living current experiences, but Winman revels in this languid approach. She creates wholesome, backwards-looking characters that allow for such an investigation into their lives. Tin Man is heartbreaking and loving, yet somehow manages to remain unsentimental in its treatment.

Instead of a normal chapter format, this book is broken into two main sections: first, a short period of Ellis’ life after suffering from devastating loss, and second, a journalled period from Michael’s life without Ellis. Readers can slowly piece together the friendships and relationships these men had and the tragedies that befell them. This was an insightful look at heartbreak and loss that is so personal, it can hardly be described. These men embodied their losses, expressing themselves in subtle moments and developing and recovering in almost imperceivable shifts.


Tin Man is at all main book retailers, including at Chapters, here.

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