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Tin Man by Sarah Winman. Book Review.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman. Book Review.
Tin Man by Sarah Winman. Book Review.
Tin Man by Sarah Winman. Book Review.Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Published by Hachette, Tinder Press on 2017
Genres: Fiction, Literary fiction
Buy on The Book Depository

The unforgettable and emotionally devastating new novel from Sarah Winman, author of the international bestseller WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT and the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller A YEAR OF MARVELLOUS WAYS.

This is almost a love story.

Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

This is almost a love story. But it's not as simple as that.

There’s something about first love, isn’t there? she said. It’s untouchable to those who played no part in it. But it’s the measure of all that follows, she said.

Sarah Winman in Tin Man


Tin Man is a stunning piece of literature. At once brutally honest and yet achingly beautiful, this examination of life and love and loss captures the essence of the human experience.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman, book review

When we first meet Ellis, he’s living a painfully isolated existence. He’s not living, not really, rather is surviving one day to the next, weighed down by an emptiness that shadows him and renders the world black and white and shades of grey. This is in stark contrast to the glimpse of a former life we see, one that radiates of joy and colour as three carefree faces smile from a photograph of a time long lost.

As circumstances for Ellis in the present day change, the daylight brings a life to be lived, but brings back memories too of a life long past.


We see 12-year-old Ellis, fearful of his father and adoring of his mother, finding a firm friend in Michael, also with a father who beats him.

We see Ellis and Michael grow to be young men, finding out who they are and finding, for a time, more than a friend in each other.

And we see Ellis meet the love of his life in Annie, and Michael wishing to be both bridesmaid and best man, for he was a part of them both.


It’s the time in between and the time after that holds the memories lost, of his wife, of his childhood bestfriend, the many lifetime’s worth of memories and more sorrow than one man can bear. These memories hold pain but they also hold exquisite beauty, of a first love everlasting, and a last.

As Ellis remembers moments and others, he sees for the very first time, souls are stripped bare, secrets are revealed, and hard truths are faced. With the cruelty of fate and the power of human nature juxtaposed, we come to understand the man Ellis became, and he understands how to move forwards from here.


Richly emotive, poetic and evocative, the prose is yet direct and sparse enough to hold entire lifetimes, laid bare to dissect and study, in fewer than 200 pages. There is grief, love and loss. Regret and shame. Friendship, family, loneliness and belonging. It is at once heart wrenching yet uplifting. There is hope and loyalty and belief. It is about knowing who you are, and owning it. And it is about love is love is love.


This book is divine.

I finished it yesterday and already want to reread it.

Needless to say, I highly recommend it!


Have you read Tin Man, or do you want to? I’d love to discuss this book further! Let me know in the comments below.

If you have enjoyed Tin Man, a book I would recommend is Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain. This remains one of my favourite books of 2017, I adored it! You can read my review here.

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Hi! I'm Julia, a lifelong reader, an aspiring writer, medical doctor, and now book blogger, from Queensland, Australia! Go to 'About Read and Live Well' to learn more!

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Q1: Bookish confession. I haven't read a Jane Austen novel that I've enjoyed yet! 😳 I will continue though!
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