Simon McDonald reviews the new book from the internationally bestselling author of When God Was a Rabbit.
Tin Man is a beautiful one-sitting tale about three friends and what unites them, and what comes between them, delivered with Sarah Winman’s inimitable grace and power.
This is a story of love and friendship, and how — usually for the better, sometimes for the worst — they are inextricably linked, like the strands of a double helix. When Ellis and Michael meet as young boys they quickly become inseparable, forming an unquantifiable relationship; a love that extends beyond pure romance, rooted in the deepest of connections. But when Annie enters their lives, the fabric of their relationship changes.
Tin Man depicts these shifting sands from both Ellis’ and Michael’s perspectives, events switching back-and-forth through time. It’s a book that explores both love, and lost love; of paths taken, and the pain of paths abandoned; what was, and what could’ve been. That it does all this — so evocatively, with such nuance and empathetic characters, in fewer than 200 pages — is a testament to Winman’s storytelling. She has crafted a novel that is both hauntingly sad, yet incredibly uplifting, reminding us of the potency and everlastingness of first love.
Told with extraordinary tenderness and feeling, sonorous prose lighting its pages, Tin Man is a closely observed, deeply sympathetic rendering of three relationships, and our helplessness against the power of love. Superbly written and desperately moving, it is one of those few novels I want to re-read again, languorously this time, to bask in the beauty of the prose, and savour my moments with these characters.