Review: The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson

This book is available from the Library

This is a story about an artist grandmother and her six-year-old granddaughter Sophia, spending their summer(s) on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland. Sophia’s mother has died, but there is only one brief mention of this, even if it remains a shadow in the background of the story.

It’s a short book with very little plot; but it is beautiful, funny, wise and heart-warming, without being sentimental. My mother was Finnish, and I find this a nostalgic reminder of childhood summers spent at our cottage by the lake.

Looking at some reviews I have realised that my copy does not include Jansson’s illustrations. These were added to later editions, as Jansson wanted to distinguish this book from her children’s Moomin stories. I am now going to see if I can hunt it down, although it appears to be out of stock.

The descriptions of the island, the landscape and especially the relationship between the wise grandmother and Sophia are just wonderful. I could fill this review with quotes, but will leave you to discover this miniature masterpiece for yourselves.