Rereading MOOMINVALLEY IN NOVEMBER by Tove Jansson

The final novel in the Moomin series was first published in English in 1971. Unlike all the others, none of the Moomin family appear in it. The book takes place at the same time as the previous novel, “Moominpapa At Sea” when they are away living on a small island with a lighthouse. During that time in Moominvalley, a varied assortment of other creatures decide to come visit the Moomins, and finding them gone, stay in and around the Moomin home waiting for them to return. Most of these folks don’t know each other well, and each is looking for something or dealing with a problem. Snufkin, the wandering musician, is there to work on a new song. Mymble came to visit her daughter Little My, who the Moomins have adopted, but she is away with them. Toft is a young orphan living in an empty boat who has never met the Moomins but often hoped to. Fillyjonk is a woman obsessed with cleaning and neatness, but an accident that endangers her life makes her decide to visit the Moomins, where in previous visits all had been calm and pleasant. The Hemulen has realized his life of collecting things has lost interest, and thinks the Moomins might help him find another plan. An old man called Grandpa Grumble can’t recall much about his past life, but remembers Moomin Valley as a place he enjoyed visiting. When all these strong personalities are gathered at the Moomin house, clashes and arguments soon develop as each one tries to follow their own ideas. Gradually some of the group learn to work together and even help and entertain each other as they wait for the family to return home.

This is perhaps the best of the series, though it works much better if you’ve read the others first. It’s kind of melancholy in some ways, but heartwarming and funny in others, and is a fine final novel with great insights into the characters. One later picture book for younger readers came from Jansson, and I will also review that here.

Recommended.

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