The Summer Book
August 7, 2013
A friend reminded me recently of The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson, a Finnish writer.
Tove (pronounced Tovah) Jansson wrote many books for children, most of them about this gang (and friends), known as the Moomins:
But The Summer Book is for adults. I’ve had it for years on my bookshelf but had never read it until now.
It’s about a grandmother and her granddaughter together on an island off Finland (the girl’s father shows up occasionally, too). It’s about the meeting place of old age and childhood, the relationship between two people who understand one another and understand the place where they live, and it’s simple and true and holds shadow and light in perfect balance. I love it.
Here is the original pair, Tove Jansson’s mother with granddaughter, Sophia:
And here’s Tove herself. Wouldn’t you just follow her anywhere? I plan to. She wrote loads of books I’d never heard of until now and I’m going to find them, including the Moomin stories.
This is a documentary about her life as artist, writer, cartoonist, friend, lover, daughter, etc.
I could rave on about The Summer Book, but you get the idea. If you need to consult a higher authority before you visit the library or lay your money down, please read Ali Smith’s review in The Guardian, which appeared when The Summer Book was reissued in 2003.
Happy reading, whatever summer book you’re holding dear.
P.S. A little bird just told me the Moomin books are available here, if you want to avoid amazon. You can also get them at indiebound (independent bookstores). And you can get all the Moomins plus The Summer Book at alibris.com. (That’s a direct link to Tove Jansson’s pages on alibris.)