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The Summer Book
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1001 book reviews > The Summer Book - Jansson

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3796 comments Mod
Read 2014
Review: This is a tale of a grandmother and her 6 year old granddaughter who spend summers on an island in the Gulf of Finland. The little girl is Sophie, her mother is dead and her dad is there also. The intro is by Esther Freud and added to the enjoyment of this book. The relationship between the two is not perfect and I like that. Grandmother has her bad days and she doesn't pretend otherwise. She admits to her problems and sometimes she acts like the child. Grandmother in her wisdom recognizes the fears of the granddaughter. There is a lot of philosophy in this book as well as humor.

First line: It was an early, very warm morning in July, and it had rained during the night.

Grandmother walked up the bare granite and thought about birds in general. It seemed to her no other creature had the same dramatic capacity to underline and perfect events -- the shifts in the seasons and the weather, the changes that run through people themselves.

We get comfort when we die, thats the whole idea. You can believe what you like, but you must learn to be tolerant.

Smell is important. It reminds a person of all the things he's been through; it is a sheath of memories and security.

Last words: "Isn't that funny," Grandmother said. "It's only my heart, it's not a herring boat at all." For a long time she wondered if she should go back to bed or stay where she was. She thought that she would stay for a while.

Gail (gailifer) | 1184 comments I thoroughly enjoyed this small book about the relationship between a grandmother and Sophia, her granddaughter. The book takes place over the summer which is when the father, daughter and grandmother travel to a island in the Gulf of Finland for their summer retreat. The interactions between the motherless Sophia and her very perceptive grandmother are delightful and yet true to the nature of humans who are living in a small space together. Sometimes they have philosophical arguments that reflect the fears of the unknown for a young child and sometimes their arguments reflect the all too knowing fears of an older woman. Sometimes they do not get along at all for no good reason and sometimes they switch roles with Sophia being the more adult of the two and grandmother being childish. The father is there working behind the wall, or out in the dory with his fishing nets but he does not interact with them in the same way. All in all, although a small narrow focused book, you do get a broad perspective on these two unique individuals and you learn what they learn about the open sea and life on a small rocky, mossy island in Finland.

Valerie Brown | 495 comments Read March 2020

This is a very charming book. Jansson is able to compellingly evoke the thoughts/feelings of an elderly woman (~85 years old) and a child (~6 years old) as they spend their time on a remote Finnish island. Moments are intensely observed although sometimes broadly explained. The ocean/sea is an important character, and anyone who has lived by the sea (or on an island) will find the writing particularly evocative. I thought the story/vingnettes were lovely and nostalgic. The telling is definitely economical, but you can still picture the various characters and situations that arise. Other reviewers have mentioned the ‘pure, beautiful magic in the natural world’, and I agree that is the strength and beauty of this book. 4*

George P. | 399 comments Read August 2020.
I also found it witty and charming. This was my third book by a Finnish writer, and my favorite of those. Four+ stars. The three prior reviews posted here are astute, and I don't think I have anything to add.

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