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Tove Jansson: Work and Love

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,605 ratings  ·  159 reviews
The definitive illustrated biography of one of the most unique and beloved children's authors of the 20th century, the creator of the Moomins. Tove Jansson (1914-2001) led a long, colourful and productive life, impacting significantly the political, social and cultural history of 20th-century Finland. And while millions of children have grown up with Little My, Snufkin, Mo ...more
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published November 27th 2014 by Particular Books (first published 2013)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  1,605 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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I don´t have much, if any, experience with biographies, but this one I found to be fantastic. Though it does help that the person the book is about is someone I´ve greatly admired since I was a little child. In Finland we are taught about Tove Jansson several times during our education, but it´s always been a very brief insight into her life and we´ve focused on the Moomins. Tuula Karjalainen goes through pretty much everything: Tove´s life from birth to death, her most important relationships a ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finnish, favorites, 2017
4.5 stars
There are only a few people I admire as much as I admire Tove Jansson. She was an inspirational artist, writer, illustrator, feminist and a thinker, and reading her biography fills me with the desire to cover my body with tattoos of her work - both images and words. I want to re-read all of her work again and again, slowly and almost hesitantly drown myself in her writing.

Boel Westin's authorised biography will probably always be the best one in my eyes, but I think Karjalainen still
Natalie (CuriousReader)
Tove Jansson: Work and Love is my first real array into Tove Janssons’ life outside of my familiarity with the Moomin family. For that reason this book was a delight, to get to know the woman behind the world so many children and adults alike return to again and again and find solace in. I enjoyed seeing the progression in Janssons’ career, being surprised by her belated success in terms of money and fame - she had already been working a long time before she became a ‘celebrity’ as a writer and ...more
Alex Sarll
An evocative if occasionally frustrating biography of the creator of the Moomins, read by way of knowing I need to (re)read the Moomins themselves and I'm sort of working my way around to it? I have such a vague yet bone-deep memory of them from childhood, but I don't even know if it was the books, the comics, the TV show or some combination of the three – I just remember them as presences. And obviously in the interim, as befits my demographic, I've read The Summer Book, the most successful of ...more
I thought I knew quite a lot about Tove Janssons life, so I haven't been in a hurry to pick this book up and read it. But I was wrong..there was so much more to know about Tove. What a fascinating life and personality! I didn't know the extent to which her books were interwoven with her own life; the dynamics in her family, war time, love life and breaking the norms. Now I feel like stacking up all the books (picture books, comics, novels) she has ever written and reading them again. This biogra ...more
A wonderful biography of Tove Jansson, a painter and the beloved creator of the Moomins. I liked the way the book was arranged, a mixture of chronology and themes as the main focus. It made the book easy to read and Jansson's timeline easy to follow. I enjoyed very much the descriptions of her atelier and her relationship to Tuulikki Pietilä. Jansson's life certainly gives you many things to write about and I think the author had them well balanced in this biography. The illustrations were marve ...more
Marina Sofia
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? So much I didn't know about Tove Jansson's life and loves, but above all her art. The book gets the balance between personal and professional/artistic just right. Comes up with lots of new insights, interviews with loved ones, makes good use of Tove's archives. Great pictures and a beautiful edition. ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book thinking I already knew a thing or two about Tove Jansson. How wrong I was. This book was such an amazing insight into the life of an incredibly talented person, as well as her work. Absolutely enjoyed reading this.
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
The best part of Tove Jansson’s centenary celebrations was, for me, the plethora of new books released, which showcased both her own work and her life. The second biography of Jansson, written by Finnish art historian Tuula Karjalainen, follows Boel Westin’s work, Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words. Whilst the titles of both books are similar, it is Karjalainen’s which stands out, and which, I feel, provides the best insight into Jansson’s work.

Jansson was born in Paris in 1914, and moved to Finland
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly remarkable life, with or without the Moomins. I like the strong focus on Jansson's work, as it was her most loved pursuit (I think/also, the title).

Exceptional research, fully referenced, lots of images.

By the way, I found the Moomins kind of creepy when I was little, but I'm ready to give them a shot now.
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
A beautiful biography that covers the entirety of Jansson's artistic career; her fiction, her paintings, her comic strips and – of course, the Moomins.

I'm left in awe of the charismatic and talented artist Jansson was.
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great person, a great life. But the book is not that well written.
Taneli Viitahuhta
Tove Jansson was stunning, phenomenal, like a breath of fresh air in the musty chambers of Finnish art world of 1900s. The artistic and personal life of hers, condensed here neatly into depiction of works and concise biography, is quite simply inspirational beyond comparison in this sorry land of artistic opportunists, drunken "genious" ego-maniacs and craven dogmatists.

Karjalainen's writing on the other hand is at times bit conservative in the way it portrays its subject, for examples she laps
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wondered whether it's possible at all to write a biography without invading the privacy of the person - especially when person in question was as secretive as Tove Jansson. Karjalainen manages to do so; she offers a respectful yet personal account of Jansson's life. She doesn't gloss over any mishaps, but neither does she take them apart. The main focus is on Tove's life as an artist, and the impact of extrinsic factors on her art, but in her case, her personal relationships were a crucial inf ...more
I am so in love with this book! It is not merely because Tove Jansson was such a great artistic personality, but also the book itself has been composed with great respect and interest to the protagonist and to the cultural background of her time. The content is very well-balanced between the personal and the artistical components, while the numerous quotes and references to Tove's correspondence give the book an authentic touch. And the cherry on top is the abundant amount of illustrations and a ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Karen Wellsbury
As a child I loved the Moomin series of books, and have always had a fascination with Tove Jansson. This is a splendid biography, illustrated throughout with Tove's painting and sketches. It's linear without being too dry and a list of dates and events and really links Tove's emotional life into her art, especially her writing.
Tove was a feminist, lived her life unapologetically and was loyal, her relationship with her family, especially her mother Ham was pivotal, a fascinating person and a bea
Mikeila Li
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very well-written, detailed account of Tove Jansson’s life. I really enjoyed it, and was thankful that the book included photographs and pictures of Tove and her works.
Triin Kand
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It all makes sense now.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, art
Other than repeating herself quite a number of times and going back and forth into particular dates in history and then slamming home the issue of Tove's controversial love life, this is a solid overview of Tove Jansson's life. Interestingly at the end of the book, the author makes mention that Tove didn't want to speak about her love life so I find it just a tad unsettling that this book focuses on it so very much. And also all to make the point, that we all probably intuitively knew/know, that ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really struggle with nonfiction but I did find this a charming account of an author whose work I adore
Nicholas Whyte
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing

I'm fascinated by the great Finnish writer Tove Jansson, and I was fascinated by this book. Growing up in an artistic household, she saw herself as an artist above all else. She wasn't terribly political, though some of her lovers were, and she did some excellent satirical covers for the magazine Garm in the 1930s. But after the war, her artistic style was out of tune with the times, and while trying to make a living from her art she discovered that her
This is a beautiful book -- full of colour images of Jansson's work and photographs of Tove and the important people and places in her life. It's made to sit on coffee tables and be admired as much as it's made to be read; perhaps a tribute to Tove, who saw herself as a painter, or to her multimodal works, such as the Moomins.

Karjalainen has been very thorough in research, with a number of quotes from original letters and documents. There's a distinct feminist undertone, and some of the word ch
Very disappointing. While this book covers Tove Jansson's life, relationships, and development as an artist very thoroughly, I found it disappointing because it lacked context. One thing I knew about her (from Wikipedia) was that she and her family were part of Finland's Swedish-speaking minority, and I wondered if this affected her. But Karjalainen barely mentions it. It wasn't till almost the end of the book that she says it took a long time for the Moomin books to be translated and published ...more
This book, about the amazing Tove Jansson, started off as a very good read. Informative, detailed and filled with interesting stories about her life, loves and her art. The first 200 pages were a delight to read. But then the author, a Finnish art historian and art critic, seems to do the same as Tove's contemporaries did; between the lines the author seems to criticise Tove's choice to move away from the Moomin world and focus on other projects. The last half of the book, which covers a period ...more
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great read for any Tove Jansson fan. It gives quite in-depth accounts of Tove's work and relationships, as those were the two most prominent themes throughout her life - just as the title implies.

The book really immerses the reader in Tove's life, and personally I found it very easy to relate to her. Reading about her turbulent relationships as well as creative struggles gave me an overwhelming sense of comfort and validation.

One thing that did irk me about this book though, was its chronolog
It's been a while since I've been so inspired by a book!
I knew Tove Jansson by just her moomin stories but she was so much more! This book is wonderfully written, with well chosen illustrations, paintings, photographs made by Tove and of her. The author has managed to choose pictures that enhance the reading experience and make it into one, wholesome experience.
The writing is very delicate, emotional and almost careful, which makes sense because the author had a lot of personal letters and memor
Charlie Waters
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of the Moomins, and then later a fan of Tove's short stories, I loved this. Learning about her beginnings as a painter and political cartoonist, her life during wartime, her relationships (especially in the context of being a queer woman, pre-legalisation) were fascinating.

Her story is often tinged with sadness - especially reading about how she grew to resent the Moomins taking up all of her attention, and leaving her unable to spend any time on her true passion - painting. Feel very
Sarah Groenewegen
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a beautiful book, with lovely reproductions of various pictures by and of Tove Jansson. My brother discovered and loved the Moomin books when he was a child. I remember reading and enjoying his copies, but they were his thing. I had no idea about Tove Jansson's other artistic endeavours or life.

I enjoy learning about creative people, and appreciate biographies that provide societal and political context. I want now to read up about recent Finnish history because this biography -- unsurprisi
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-finnish
3,5 stars.
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