The Summer Book
Tove Jansson, the world-renowned creator of the Moomintroll characters, succinctly harnesses the power and glory of a seaside summer season in the twenty-two elegant vignettes contained within The Summer Book. Here is a book in no need of magic or any other fantastical adornments as she reminds us that we can discover pure, beautiful magic in the natural world all around us if only we quiet our lives and open our eyes t...more
Every once in a while I read a book that makes me jealous, that makes me wish I could write and do what the book did. Like this one. It's a wisp of a book - brief, with no plot to speak of and only two real characters, no compelling crisis to drive the action, no suspense.
I almost cried when it ended.
It's like a watercolor of only four or five easy strokes, that you can't help but stare at for hours.
So, this girl Sophia and her grandmother, and...more
Then came the death of her mother in 1972. Sad and grieving, she wrote The Summer Book which is now considered as a Scandinavian classic and has never bee...more
The novel brings a typical quiet Scandinavian summer to life; just the type of "still-holiday-but-also-something-else-entirely" that I remember having with my family when I was younger.
The chapters are quite short (ten pages at most I think), and one doesn't need to read them all in one go, which makes...more
“Grandmother worked only in old wood that had already found its form. That is, she saw and selected those pieces of wood that expressed what she wanted them to say” (15).
“Gathering is peculiar, because you see nothing but what you’re looking for. If you’re picking raspberries, you see only what’s red, and if you’re looking for bones you see only the white” (15).
“That’s strange,’ Grandmother thought. I can’t describe things any more. I can’t find the words, or maybe it’s just...more
Grandmother remains unnamed, perhaps to preserve that essential privacy that she explains to her friend Verner must always be reserved. But her granddaughter Sophia is six years...more
It is deceptively simple an...more
Composed of twenty-two short vignettes of the interactions between precocious six-year-old Sophia and her sharp-tongued, aging Grandmother, "The Summer Book" is compact, concise, and nearly perfect. The stories all contain a little sliver of wisdom, or truth, folded into the sometimes witty and sometimes banal conversations between granddaughter and grandmother, and Tove's observations o...more
An excellent depiction of the value of a child to his or her grandparent and the steadfast surety of a grandparent to a child when coming to terms with the less glamorous realities of lif...more
When I started reading it, I loved the feel of the book. It read like a lazy, hazy summer day. Where you relax and do what you please, or whatever the day lead you to do. This made some sense, as the book tells the stories of Sophia, who is around 7, and her Grandmother at and around their summer ca...more
The exquisitely-described landscapes of a small Finnish island are remoter and rockier and mossier and harsher than those of early twentieth century France or southern England. The peace and isolation are a holiday in themselves: it's something north european fiction does ve...more
In many ways, Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book is closer to the latter. It...more
A girl and her grandmother walk together overcoming difficulties by cooperation. There are naive questions from young Sophia and reassuring answers from her grandmother.
I listened to an abridged audio radio adaptation. With an age-appropriate voice actor for each role. Starring Phyllida Law and Sophie Thompson.
Every summer 6 year-old Sophie and her family spend the season on an uncultivated island off the coast of Finland. This book tells the story of Sophie and her grandmother as they explore the island, embark on small adventures, and grow closer. Together they break into a neighbor’s house, search for the grandmother’s false teeth, write a book, swim, adopt a cat and develop a close bond.
I really liked this deceptively simple book. Themes of life and death, youth...more
InThe Summer BookTove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new par
I was immediately attracted to The Summer Book, which she wrote in 1972 after her mother’s death, perhaps in part because of its similarities to my...more
My favorite lines from th...more
This is quite a departure from whimsy, yet felt genuine and satisfying to me. The Summer Book captures how life on a small island is terribly cl...more
Although known first and foremost as an author, Tove Jansson considered her careers as author and painter to be of equal importance.
Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated her first Moomin...more
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'That's very true,' Grandmother observed. 'And so what do you do?'
'You go on loving,' said Sophia threateningly. 'You love harder and harder.”