Sunday 9 August 2015

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

Hopefully this post will be the first sign that life is resuming some semblance of normality here at Brona's Books after our move.

The majority of the boxes are unpacked.
Most of our stuff has found a new nesting spot.
Routines are being re-jigged to fit in around the layout of our new place.
Fresh habits are also developing.

I initially added The Summer Book to my 20 Books of Winter list as my token gesture towards the Northern Hemisphere season.

Tove Jansson is mostly known for her creation of the Moomin series of books for children which won the Hans Christian Andersen gold medal in 1966. However she also wrote several novels and short story collections for adults.

The Summer Book was first published in 1972 and then translated from Swedish into English by Thomas Teal.

It turned out to be the perfect type of book to be reading whilst packing up one home and moving into another.
It was:
  • Slim (it fitted into my coat pocket).
  • Easy to read brief chapters (when falling into bed exhausted each night a quick stand-alone chapter was all I could take in).
  • A simple, idyllic family story (that didn't require a lot of concentration; but satisfied my need to be someplace else for a while).
  • Only two main characters and one island to remember between reads.
  • A few black and white photographs of the actual island in the Gulf of Finland and Jansson's mother and niece (who were the inspiration for this story), to keep it real.
  • Heart-warming, quirky vignettes that captured the complexity and simplicity of family life (which reflected how we as a family worked well together to move house yet rubbed up against each other at times).
A final quote to whet your appetite for island life:
Every year, the bright Scandinavian summer nights fade away without anyone's noticing. One evening in August you have an errand outdoors, and all of a sudden it's pitch-black. A great warm, dark silence surrounds the house. It is still summer, but the summer is no longer alive....
Day by day, everything moves closer to the house. Sophie's father takes in the tent and the water pump. He removes the buoy and attaches the cable to the cork float. The boat is pulled ashore on a cradle, and the dory is hung upside down behind the woodyard. And so autumn begins....
Grandmother had always liked this great change in August, most of all, perhaps, because of the way it never varied: a place for everything and everything in its place....Grandmother's leg ached, which may have been due to the rain, and she couldn't walk around the island as much as she wanted to....She picked up everything that had to do with human beings....It's shaking us off, she thought. It will soon be uninhabited....
"Why are you in such a rush?" Sophia asked, and her grandmother answered that it was a good idea to do things before you forgot that they had to be done. 

Which is the perfect place for me to finish tonight, although it's not very likely that I will forgot all those unpacked boxes awaiting my attention!

1 comment:

  1. I own this book, and now you've inspired my to dig it out:) thanks - it sounds great


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