Saturday 29 September 2012

The Summer Book

Finished September 29
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal

This classic is a collection of vignettes illustrating summer months spent on an island in the Finnish archipelago. Jansson spent a great deal of her life on such an island, so knew it well. Here we have Sophia, a young girl spending the summer on the island with her grandmother and her father. The point of view moves seamlessly between Sophia and her grandmother, changing back and forth often and in a way that flows. The grandmother is ageing and her body doesn't always allow her to do what she wishes. Sometimes she gets cranky, but her love for Sophia shows. Sophia is impetuous and eager, but also emotional and sentimental. Her emotions are not checked and we see her anger, frustration, and eagerness. She seems to have boundless energy.
These glimpses reveal all the aspects of summer, from visitors to storms, lazy days to short jaunts. Sophia's father is a shadowy figure, present in the background only in all except the storm vignette where he plays a larger role. The two females are co-conspirators and entertain and look after each other. A lovely little book, timeless and full of nature.

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