The Summer Book

p. 109   “A small island, on the other hand, takes care of itself.  It drinks melting snow and spring rain and, finally, dew, and if there is a drought, the island waits for the next summer and grows its flowers then instead. The flowers are used to it, and wait quietly in their roots. There’s no need to feel sorry for the flowers, Grandmother said.”

This lovely, but intense book arrived as a birthday gift from my Finnish friends several years ago.  Of course I was familiar with many things “Moomen” – what children’s librarian is not? – but I was totally unaware of Tove Jansson as an adult author.This edition is well suited for this ignorant American with its brief, but illuminating “Introduction” telling of her life, loves, and devotion to writing. Every once in a while, toward summer if it has been a hard winter (and in many ways it has this year), I reread it.  I imagine myself both the six-year old Sophia and the aging, independent Grandmother simultaneously. Both are observant, sensitive to nature (if not her own), and petulant.  Both love each other with a detached ache; one due to being so very young, and the other for having endured so much pain, perhaps.  Each chapter is a vignette – a private look into the relationship between each other, visitors to the island, but most importantly the life of the island itself.

Bittersweet.  You, too, will close the last page with something of an ache in your heart.

Jansson, Tove, and Thomas Teal, trans.  The Summer Book.  New York: NYRB, 2008. Print.


3 thoughts on “The Summer Book

  1. Wanted to leave a ‘like’ for this post, but was unable to. I read this book last summer, and had in mind, like you, to return to it each summer, too.


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