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A portrait of love, friendship and understanding

The second of my book reviews for 2019 is Tin Man by Sarah Winman. I think the cover is brilliant.

Sarah Winman’s debut, When God was a Rabbit, was one of my favourite books of the last few years, so I was really looking forward to reading this, her third novel. It didn’t disappoint. It is, as someone said, one of the most beautiful portraits of love, friendship and understanding.

Tin Man is a reference to a character's job as a panel beater in a car factory. The book is split between the perspectives of Ellis and his childhood friend, Michael. As young men, Ellis and Michael are lovers for a brief spell. Later, Ellis marries Annie, who becomes like a hinge between the two men.

Starting in the late 60s and moving back and forth across four decades, the story is a love triangle where love, instead of jealousy, triumphs.

Some of the book’s most tender scenes are set on an AIDS ward in 1989. Conscious that AIDS is not just about gay lives, Winman paints a picture of the prejudices that existed back then. She depicts the "incredible care and humanity that young gay men were showing to each other", when many of them had been abandoned by their families.

Tin Man is compassionate and tender, touching and melancholy, but also uplifting, and I thoroughly recommend it.

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