Spring, summer, autumn, winter

Tove Jansson on the island of Bredskar (the real island behind The Summer Book) in 1950
Around this time last year I read Tove Jansson's The winter book for the first time. I enjoyed it, but wasn't perhaps quite as wowed by it as I'd expected to be, having read some rapturous reviews of her Summer book. 

A kind family of Bookhounders presented me with a copy of Jansson's Summer book as a Christmas present. It was a really cool present as they'd decided to go the whole summer hog, so to speak, so I also got a can of Pims (very refreshing on Christmas Day), and some strawberries and cream chocolate. Anyway, Pims and chocolate were quickly polished off, but I kept The summer book for the summer.

I loved it, Winter book was good, but Summer book enchants from start to finish. The book follows the lives of grandmother and small grand-daughter, Sophia, on a remote and tiny Finnish island through one summer. Partly modelled on Jansson's niece, Sophia, and Jansson's own beloved mother - who campaigned for the law to be changed in Sweden to allow girls to go camping (who would have thought a law ever existed banning them???), the novel manages to be both light and airy, and also profound musing on matters of life and death, globalization and ecology (years before either were seriously thought about), growing up, and growing old.

A Summer book it may be, the warmth and long light-filled nights imbue the book, but it's actually a book for all seasons. Little Sophia in the springtime of her life, the summer season morphing into preparations for autumn, and frail, but decidedly wicked grandmother, edging into the winter of her own life, and delighting in a final return to childhood.

This is a book that can be read on so many levels, and will probably metamorphosize depending on the reader's own background at the time of reading. I loved it from start to finish. More than anything, it made me desperately want to pack my case and head off for a remote Finnish island. The island was as much a character as Sophia, her delightful Grandmother and Papa.

Please read Tove Jansson's classic Summer Book, a great read to tick off in my Before I die reading challenge.


Clare Chase said…
Really pleased you enjoyed it, Maraget!

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