The Summer Book
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Published in English
An elderly woman and her six-year-old granddaughter Sophia spend a summer together on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland exploring, talking about life, nature, everything but their feelings about Sophia's mother's death and their love for one another.
The novelist Ali Smith, reviewing the book in The Guardian, wrote that Jansson was better known for her Moomin books than for her novels, and that with her worldwide fame, she knew the virtues of withdrawal. In Smith's view, The Summer Book is an astonishing achievement of artistry, "the writing so lightly kept, so simple-seeming, so closely concerned with the weighing of moments that any extra weight of exegesis is too much." Telling the tale of the child and her grandmother in the simplest language, Smith writes, "The threat of brevity, even on this timeless island in this timeless, gorgeous summer, is very marked. But Jansson's brilliance is to create a narrative that seems, at least, to have no forward motion, to exist in lit moments, gleaming dark moments, like lights on a string, each chapter its own beautifully constructed, random-seeming, complete story. Her writing is all magical deception, her sentences simple and loaded; the novel reads like looking through clear water and seeing, suddenly, the depth." Smith praises Thomas Teal's English translation as "original and stunning".
The journalist Antonia Windsor described it as "like a meditation on life and love and surviving in the natural world. It is a wonderfully humane and gentle book."
- Tove Jansson
- Sophia Jansson – Jansson's niece and the real-life model for the character of Sophia.
- Signe Hammarsten-Jansson – Jansson's mother and the real-life model for the character of Sophia's grandmother.
- Rayner, Richard (27 April 2008). "Dreams of an endless summer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Smith, Ali (12 July 2003). "The Summer Book by Tove Jansson". The Guardian. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Windsor, Antonia (12 August 2011). "Summer readings: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "The Summer Book by Tove Jansson". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 5 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Jaggi, Maya (3 September 2005). "Runes of song". The Guardian. London. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Rix, Juliet (3 July 2010). "The Moomins – a family affair". The Guardian. London.