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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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1,461605,119 (4.22)304
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. 41
    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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    Cecilturtle: A similarly constructed series of connected short stories told through the eyes of a young girl.
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» See also 304 mentions

English (54)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. 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. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. “On an island,” thinks the grandmother, “everything is complete.” In The Summer Book, Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.

Tove Jansson, whose Moomintroll comic strip and books brought her international acclaim, lived for much of her life on an island like the one described in The Summer Book, and the work can be enjoyed as her closely observed journal of the sounds, sights, and feel of a summer spent in intimate contact with the natural world.

The Summer Book is translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal.

My Review: I am a person who likes quiet. My home environment, when I'm able to force my will on my roommate, is free of audio pollution like TV and radio. Perhaps in compensation, I love spy stories and space-war epics and historical novels with battles, explosions, near misses with the main character dangling from rooftops...the very essence of un-quiet.

The Summer Book is, in contrast, the quietest reading imaginable. Yes, there are storms...an island will experience a lot of those...there are misfit neighbors in ugly houses, and all of it is so much the proper order of things that they fail to create fear in the reader. The two or three hours you'll spend with this family as its members learn to grow, learn to let go, and simply earn their living won't be wasted.

I'd strongly suggest this as a midafternoon sunny-day read, or the quiet and the rightness of story and style will lull the tense, stressed, relaxation-deprived modern person into a deep, satisfying sleep. ( )
1 vote richardderus | Nov 7, 2015 |
Perfection of an indescribable variety. It simply has to be read. Grandmother and son and grand-daughter Sophia (six) spend their summers on a tiny island off the coast of Finland. The mother has died, but this is nowhere overtly stated, it is simply implicit, in Sophia's moodiness, in the grandmother's heroic attempts to entertain and comfort the child--not with hugs but with wit and indirection, and the father's utter absorption in the work at his desk or outside gardening and fishing. He is there and not there. Each "chapter" covers an event or an aspect of island life, a new house, ambitious gardening, a bad storm. But don't be fooled, near the end Sophia dictates a book to her grandmother entitled "A Study of Angleworms That Have Come Apart." The book slants toward grandmother's point of view, she treasures the island summers and knows few are left to her, she loves this child, her legs hurt, she gets tired too easily . . . This is one of those pieces of writing that isn't like any other piece of writing you've ever encountered, the language is that of a light-filled Finnish summer by the sea, limpid, still, hot and clear but, everyone knows, only a temporary state of affairs that will change. But then return. It's going on my top ten novels by women. And I will read and reread it. ***** ( )
3 vote sibyx | Sep 26, 2015 |
This was a beautiful book—the best one I've read this summer. These short vignettes, about how a grandmother and her granddaughter spend one summer on an island, are deceptively simple. Beyond the childhood games and model boats, there are deeper moments when Sophia and her grandmother reflect on the nature of life and death, growing older, and God. What attracts me most is how Tove Jansson has captured what it means to be human, in terms that a six year old, or eighty-six year old, could understand.

Some chapters that I particularly loved:

The cat- Sophia gets a cat and learns that when you love, it doesn't matter your expectations are met.

The tent- Grandmother forgets what it's like to camp in a tent, but through Sophia's description, can revisit those memories.

Sophia's storm- Sophia prays and the mother of all storms comes. Sophia then grabbles with the nature of God and prayer, with the help of grandmother.

The whole book was enjoyable though, and I can see myself definitely rereading it, year after year. As this was my first Tove Jansson novel, I am now eagerly anticipating reading The Winter Book. ( )
  mmcdwl | Sep 8, 2015 |
A gloriously and deceptively simple book. Each chapter is an incident on the island at a unspecified year in summer. Usually nothing big. Just life on the island with Grandmother and Sophia with Papa playing a bit part. It captures the mood of the sea, the flow of life, the shifts in relationships, the youthful insistence and wisdom of Sophia, and the deteriorating health of Grandmother. I particularly like the way Grandmother interacts with Sophia, wise, fun and perverse by turn. ( )
  devilish2 | Feb 11, 2015 |
Review: This is a tale of a grandmother and her 6 year old granddaughter who spend summers on an island in the Gulf of Finland. The little girl is Sophie, her mother is dead and her dad is there also. The intro is by Esther Freud and added to the enjoyment of this book. The relationship between the two is not perfect and I like that. Grandmother has her bad days and she doesn't pretend otherwise. She admits to her problems and sometimes she acts like the child. Grandmother in her wisdom recognizes the fears of the granddaughter. There is a lot of philosophy in this book as well as humor.

First line: It was an early, very warm morning in July, and it had rained during the night.

Grandmother walked up the bare granite and thought about birds in general. It seemed to her no other creature had the same dramatic capacity to underline and perfect events -- the shifts in the seasons and the weather, the changes that run through people themselves.

We get comfort when we die, thats the whole idea. You can believe what you like, but you must learn to be tolerant.

Smell is important. It reminds a person of all the things he's been through; it is a sheath of memories and security.

Last words: "Isn't that funny," Grandmother said. "It's only my heart, it's not a herring boat at all." For a long time she wondered if she should go back to bed or stay where she was. She thought that she would stay for a while. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 29, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jansson, Toveprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Teal, ThomasTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, KathrynIntroductionsecondary 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.
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".
Grandmother walked up the bare granite and thought about birds in general. It seemed to her no other creature had the same dramatic capacity to underline and perfect events -- the shifts in the seasons and the weather, the changes that run through people themselves.
Eriksson was small and strong and the colour of the landscape, except that his eyes were blue. When people talked about him or thought about him, it seemed natural to lift their heads and gaze out over the sea […. A]s long as he stayed, he had everyone's undivided attention. No one did anything, no one looked at anything but Eriksson. They would hang on his every word, and when he was gone and nothing had actually been said, their thoughts would dwell gravely on what he had left unspoken.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:41 -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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