The Summer Book
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The Summer Book

By (author) Tove Jansson , Foreword by Esther Freud

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An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter while away a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. As the two learn to adjust to each other's fears, whims and yearnings, a fierce yet understated love emerges - one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the very island itself. Written in a clear, unsentimental style, full of brusque humour, and wisdom, The Summer Book is a profoundly life-affirming story.Tove Janssoncaptured much of her own life and spirit in the book, which was her favourite of her adult novels. This new edition, with a Foreword by Esther Freud, sees the return of a European literary gem - fresh, authentic and deeply humane.

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  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 18mm | 222.26g
  • 29 May 2003
  • SORT OF BOOKS
  • London
  • English
  • 0954221710
  • 9780954221713
  • 4,594

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Author Information

The writer and artist Tove Jansson (1914-2001) is best known as the creator of the Moomin children's stories, which have been published in 35 languages. The Summer Book was one of ten novels she wrote for adults. It is regarded as a modern classic throughout Scandinavia.

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Review quote

Tove Jansson was a genius. This is a marvellous, beautiful, wise novel, which is also very funny. -- Philip Pullman This is a wonderful, life-affirming, spirited book. Reading it was a tonic. -- Chris Stewart (author, Driving Over Lemons) Eccentric, funny, wise, full of joys and small adventures. This is a book for life. -- Esther Freud

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Review text

Take a book in which nothing happens and there is no plot, but there are lashings of positive feelings presented simply, and it will become a cult. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (now past its 25th anniversary edition) and Jonathan Livingston Seagull are both bestsellers. The Summer Book is in this mould - it manages to make you feel good as well as wise, without having to make too much effort. It has already achieved modern classic status in the author's native Scandinavia, where it has been in print since first published over 30 years ago. Although Jansson is best known for her Moomin children's books, this is no-frills adult fiction that reads like memoir. An old woman spends the summers on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland with her six-year-old granddaughter. They wander around, pick flowers, watch storms, take an occasional trip in a rowing boat to a neighbouring island, talk about and to the cat, and turn over stones. But under every stone they turn, there's an observation far deeper than the island's shallow soil. When the grandmother proclaims, 'Only farmers and summer guests walk on the moss.... The second time it doesn't rise back up. And the third time you step on moss, it dies,' you know she's not really talking about moss at all, but delivering a lesson on life itself. Jansson's delight with small things is infectious. Her Lilliputian kingdom, based on a real island she inhabited, may have no great sights or dramatic landscape but when she describes the way a raindrop sits on a single leaf, we are entranced. This charming book demonstrates that you don't have to be grand to be great. Review by Dea Birkett (Kirkus UK)

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