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The Summer Book (New York Review Books…

The Summer Book (New York Review Books Classics) (original 1972; edition 2008)

by Tove Jansson, Kathryn Davis (Introduction), Thomas Teal (Translator)

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1,281None6,107 (4.21)228
Title:The Summer Book (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:Tove Jansson
Other authors:Kathryn Davis (Introduction), Thomas Teal (Translator)
Info:NYRB Classics (2008), Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:alice hoffman

Work details

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (1972)

  1. 31
    Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson (Jannes)
    Jannes: Janssons kärlek till den finska skärgården är mycket tydlig i båda dessa böcker som trots sina ytliga olikheter har mycket gemensamt.
  2. 10
    Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (Jannes)
    Jannes: Interconnected stories abour childhood and endless summers. Bradbury is more fantastical, while Jansson leans more to the realistic and understated, but both books runs over with wonderful and lyrical prose, and both captures a sense of childhood and summer i a way that is very rare.… (more)
  3. 00
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» See also 228 mentions

English (40)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Delightful book; it made me laugh out loud many times. ( )
  JWhitsitt | Mar 17, 2014 |
Lovely, poetic, understated. Sad and happy at the same time. ( )
  Moem | Mar 11, 2014 |
What a delightful little book! In a series of short vignettes, the relationship between six-year-old Sophia and her grandmother is slowly uncovered with all its quirky, lovable details. Sophia is by turns precocious, imperious, frightened, and maternal, while her grandmother swings between the wisdom and the childishness of the very old. Together they explore the small island that is their home for the summer, shared only with nature and, very peripherally, Sophia's father. Together Sophia and her grandmother build secret hideaways and a miniature Venice, write the definitive book on bugs, concoct life-saving remedies, and trespass on a newcomer's island. Sophia learns about life and love in the dappled light, while her grandmother considers her own mortality. The stories are an ode to life and to the natural beauty of the islands in the Gulf of Finland, where the author spent much of her own life. Don't expect life-changing insights or a gripping plot, but rather the quiet joy of summer and childhood and a life well-lived. ( )
3 vote labfs39 | Feb 9, 2014 |
This is a wonderful book! I borrowed a copy from the library but will buy one for my personal collection in a flash if I spy it in a second-hand bookshop.

[The Summer Book] is about a grandmother and her six-year-old granddaughter, Sophia, and the adventures they have during the summer on a tiny island off the coast of Finland. The characters are loosely based on Jansson's mother, who passed away the year before Jansson wrote the book, and her niece. The island where they spent time is a real one which you can go and visit (this edition has some photos in the introduction). It's a tiny speck of land in the sea - according to Esther Freud, who wrote the introduction, you can circumambulate it in about four and a half minutes. The smallness of the island contributes something to the dollhouse-like delicacy of the prose: a page is given over to describing the minute landscape that Grandmother sees in the triangle between her outstretched arm, her hat, and some white reeds. One chapter relates how Sophia and Grandmother construct a tiny Venice out of stones and balsa wood in a marsh pool (and the subsequent disaster when a storm strikes and the sea rises!) Fans of the Moomin books will recognise Jansson's fascination with the world of very small things.

Jansson's keen perception of character and interaction makes Sophia and Grandmother fascinating characters as well. They are by turns kind, angry, independent, affectionate, irritated, irritating, and always genuine. The dialogue between an old woman nearing the end of her life and a young girl at the beginning of hers is frequently hilarious:

'You're a very good climber,' said Grandmother sternly. 'And brave too, because I could see you were scared. Shall I tell (your father) about it? Or shouldn't I?'

Sophia shrugged one shoulder and looked at her grandmother. 'I guess maybe not,' she said. 'But you can tell it on your deathbed so it doesn't go to waste.'

'That's a bloody good idea,' Grandmother said.

There's a bitter-sweet note to the book that stops it from being overly cute. The matter-of-fact references to the death of Sophia's mother and Grandmother's approaching 'deathbed' are less dark than Grandmother's bouts of depression and Sophia's childish outbursts that manifest in temporary but passionate hatred (sometimes amusing, sometimes painful to watch). Somehow, though, in their tiny shared world, the two very different characters always find a point of connection.

[The Summer Book] is a story about the love between grandmother and granddaughter, even when they behave in unlovable ways. Esther Freud and Philip Pullman are right in describing it as both wise and funny. Definitely one to keep and reread. ( )
  Erratic_Charmer | Feb 4, 2014 |
I have a new book to add to my favorites. Jansson's The Summer Book is a charming, subtle and humorous look at the relationship between 6 year old Sophia and her grandmother. The book is organized into chapters that are something like short stories, but more like snapshots of summers spent on an island in Finland. Jansson magically shifts point of view from Grandmother to Sophia throughout the stories, making this book equally about both of them. We find out in one short sentence that Sophia's mother has died and her petulant sometimes erratic behavior becomes more than just the mood swings of a typical six year old, but also the reaction of a child to the loss of a parent. Jansson never hits you over the head with a psychological analysis, but keeps the event in your mind as you read. Grandmother is nearing the end of her life. She is sarcastic and ironic and not always patient with Sophia, but she is loving and hilarious. My favorite chapters were "The Pasture", where Grandmother and Sophia have a hilarious but somehow meaningful discussion about God, "The Cat" where Sophia learns her first lessons about loving something that doesn't always act the way you want it to, and "Of Angleworms and Others" where Sophia writes a book. Grandmother and Sophia are two of my favorite characters I've ever come across and I guarantee I'll read this book again.

I seriously hope that everyone takes the time to read this short, beautiful book. You'll love it. ( )
  japaul22 | Oct 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tove Janssonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Teal, ThomasTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freud, EstherForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was an early, very warm morning in July, and it had rained during the night.
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Che cosa strana è l'amore, disse Sofia. Più si ama l'altro e meno l'altro ti ama.
È assolutamente vero, osservò la nonna. E allora che cosa si può fare?
Si continua ad amare, disse Sofia minacciosamente. Si ama sempre peggio".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0954221710, Paperback)

An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter are away on 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 Jansson captured 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia's grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland." -- Publisher's description.

(summary from another edition)

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