Taylor Norman's Reviews > The Summer Book

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
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Sep 09, 13

bookshelves: adult-literary-fiction, new-york-review-books, hans-christian-andersen-winner
Read from August 31 to September 02, 2011

My favorite quotes:

“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 hat I’m not trying hard enough. It was such a long time ago. No one here was even born. And unless I tell it because I want to, it’s as if it never happened; it gets closed off and then it’s lost” (80).

“. . . the darkness was filled with stragne movements and sounds, the kind no one can trace or even account for. The kind no one can describe” (81).

“‘Oh, dear God,’ Sophia said. ‘don’t let me get scared!’ And immediately she started thinking about what it would be like to get scared” (81-2).

“And when she got out in the ravine, she noticed for the first time what the ground really felt like under her toes and the soles of her feet. It was cold, grainy, terribly complicated ground that changed as she walked . . .” (82).

“‘. . .every human being has to make his own mistakes’” (97).

“Grandmother had had to be frugal all her life, and so she had a weakness for extravagance. . . . She sighed contentedly, and, absorbed in thought, she filled a coffee cup with precious drinking water and poured it over a daisy” (120).

“Of course, you moved a potted plant to wherever it would get on best. It would do fine on the veranda for a week. If you were going to be gone longer than that, you had to leave it with someone who could water it. It was a nuisance. Even potted plants got to be a responsibility, like everything else you took care of that couldn’t make decisions for itself” (127).

“How silly, she thought. Why could I never bring myself to tell him I hate sherry? And now it’s too late. It really was a shame, seeing that she had now reached the age where a person can safely be truthful about small things” (130).

“Sophia stood up and shouted, ‘Say this: say I hate everything that dies slow! Say I hate everything that won’t let you help!’” (141).

“In His immense benevolence, He thrust huge masses of water in toward land, and they rose above the rocky shore and the grass and the moss and roared in among the junipers, and Sophia’s hard summer feet thumped across the ground as she ran back and forth praising God! The world was quick and sharp again. Finally, something was happening” (148).

“Everything that had settled down to rot and turn to soil in a hundred years rose up and whirled out over the shore and into the storming sea: the pilots’ old garbage and the stink from the well and the slow sadness of a great many summers” (150).

“‘It’s funny about me,’ Sophia said. ‘I always feel like such a nice girl whenever there’s a storm” (150).

“. . .now and then Grandmother would bend over to pick some important ingredient. Large and black, she moved along in the path of the moon. Her stiff legs and her walking stick marched steadily forward, and she grew larger and larger. The moonlight rested on her hat and her shoulders as she watched over fate and the island. There was not the least doubt but what she would find what they needed to avert misfortune and death. It all found a place in her pocket” (161).
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