Rereading: THE SUMMER BOOK by Tove Jansson

I love the Moomin novels and comic strip by Jansson, so when I found this novel by her at a book sale, I snatched it up. This is closer to memoir than novel, a series of episodes and events in the lives of three people who live on a remote island in the Gulf of Finland every summer: Grandmother (probably modeled on the author), her son, and her granddaughter Sophia. Most of the book is a dialogue and the adventures of Grandmother and Sophia, each stubborn and full of strong ideas, each enjoying the other’s company except when they find it infuriating. The plants, birds, and natural world around them play a large role in their activities, as does the ocean. Matters of theology and superstition are discussed and sometimes acted on, along with gardening and exploration of their island and other nearby ones. Father seldom intervenes, seeming to be busy with his own work, probably writing. Any stranger who comes to the house is sure to be thoroughly questioned and added to the adventures if possible. The writing is honest, thoughtful, and clever, while bringing plenty of humor and mystery as well as emotional resonance. The book ends with a very strong storm that threatens the three islanders in unexpected ways.

HIghly recommended.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

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