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Fair Play (1989)

by Tove Jansson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6373231,597 (3.96)103
Fair Playnbsp;is the type of love story that is rarely told, a revelatory depiction of contentment, hard-won and exhilarating.nbsp; Mari is a writer and Jonna is an artist, and they live at opposite ends of a big apartment building, their studios connected by a long attic passageway. They have argued, worked, and laughed together for decades. Yet they've never really stopped taking each other by surprise.nbsp;Fair Playnbsp;shows us Mari and Jona's intertwined lives as they watch Fassbinder films and Westerns, critique each other's work, spend time on a solitary island (recognizable to readers of Jansson'snbsp;The Summer Book), travel through the American Southwest, and turn life into nothing less than art.… (more)
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» See also 103 mentions

English (29)  Dutch (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I read her "The Summer Book" when I was a young adult and remembered it as a book of yearning, so I wanted to read more about Jansson's life. (I followed that book long ago with one of the Moomintroll books & just thought it foolish.)
Reading this collection of possibly autobiographical stories was a mixed experience. Some of them showed the women's lives to be so placid and blase, so full of habitual patterns, that I couldn't understand them. In other stories we can see how compromises, acceptance, and tolerance were important for the women to keep their friendship along with being true to their own natures.
I particularly liked "Stars", in which Mari looks forward to an autumn camping trip, and "Viktoria" which gives a glimpse at the skills needed to live on the island, and both of those stories show the love held for her family of origin. A quote from "Viktoria" is a lesson I've noticed also: "When was it we realized we couldn't do it anymore?...it was actually interesting, not being strong enough to lift and roll anymore. It gave me ideas, you know--completely new ideas. About lifting, leverage, balance, angles of fall, about trying to use logic." (p.87) ( )
  juniperSun | Oct 5, 2022 |
Best for:
Those looking for a mix between short stories and a novel.

In a nutshell:
Jonna and Mari are artists and friends who are in their 70s and live at opposite ends of an apartment building on an island.

Worth quoting:
“She’s not shy; she just won’t bother trying to be pleasant. She thinks it’s artistic to be gloomy.”

Why I chose it:
My partner gave this to me as a gift, I think because it’s a novel about friendship, not romantic love, and I wish there were more of those.

Review:
One of my favorite TV shows is Grace & Frankie. It’s not a perfect piece of art, but I love that women in their 70s are shown as complex people with their own wants and needs, not people who are shut off in a corner, watching everyone else live their lives. I don’t think we get enough of that in popular media - the exploration of friendship outside of, say, YA shows and books. Nearly everything revolves around romantic love, and while that can be interesting to me, I think the love of a friend is so interesting as well.

This book is a series of short chapters with no obvious through line. Yes, they probably should be read in order (I imagine the author had it in mind), but one chapter doesn’t necessarily follow from the next. Each has a title (similar to a short essay) as opposed to a number.

Jonna and Mari are both artists - Mari, I believe, writes and illustrates stories; Jonna works in other aspects of visual art (film, paint, etc.). They seem to be very important to each other’s creative processes, stopping in during the workday while also picking up on where the other is in their journey on a particular piece of art. They also have visitors, take trips, get stuck in storms. They clearly care deeply about each other, in a way that is so familiar that they know what to do next without discussion. It’s sweet and interesting.

They also aren’t perfect. Jonna can be a bit short, and Mari a bit passive-aggressive. Jonna strikes me as a bit more selfish, but not to a problematic degree. They are both independent and supportive of each other, and it’s lovely to read.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it - I can see myself reading it again, especially as I get older. ( )
  ASKelmore | Jan 22, 2022 |
Familiarity and understanding in a committed relationship and lifelong connection seep through each short story in Tove Jansson's Fair Play. Reads like fragments of memories permeated by an enduring albeit muted love between two women, the infectious charm and humour of these stories is delicately drawn through household chores, hobbies, vacations, even the usual banter, inside jokes, and intersection of their work which sprung from years of togetherness and companionship. It's where support is limpid beyond the suggestions and criticisms they have for/of each other. And while this collection wholeheartedly recognises how one gets accustomed to someone's constant presence, it also admires the importance of one's independence within the relationship; that one's identity should not disappear nor get compromised by one's devotion to another. Since Fair Play takes this relationship centre stage then almost mirrors the partnership between Tove and Tooti, it's a little disappointing how it somehow cowardly conceals the real nature of the relationship by referring to each other as a 'friend.' Its subtle, intimate moments can feel distant too. And it is perhaps the unavoidable cost of any story pulled directly from personal experiences, much more when it's about a romantic affair (particularly a same-sex relationship during the 1950s) carefully celebrated in hushed tones and soft murmurs. Nonetheless, a worthwhile collection that pulls the mouth into a contented smile. ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
This lovely semi-autobiographical book consists of short episodic vignettes of the lives of two older women, Jonna an artist and Mari a writer. It's about aging--"time running out"--and about giving those you love the space to grow. Recommended. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jan 1, 2019 |
This is a series of vignettes about the relationship between two women artists. Their relationship is close. They support each other and play off each other in their creative pursuits. I liked the relationship between the two women and the direct writing. 3.5 ⭐️ ( )
  redwritinghood38 | Nov 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Fair Play beschrijft de bijna gewone, dagelijkse bezigheden en gesprekken van de twee dames. Juist door de “gewoonheid” van de gebeurtenissen geeft Jansson een prachtige inkijk in de intimiteit van de relatie. Ook de stilte van het samenzijn, van de verbinding tussen twee mensen die elkaar heel goed kennen en waartussen diepe genegenheid bestaat – “daar waar geen woorden nodig zijn” – komt sterk naar voren. Dat laatste wordt nog versterkt, doordat een deel van het leven van de dames zich op een eiland afspeelt…lees verder >
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jansson, Toveprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Härkäpää, KyllikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, AliIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Teal, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Jonna had a happy habit of waking each morning as if to a new life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fair Playnbsp;is the type of love story that is rarely told, a revelatory depiction of contentment, hard-won and exhilarating.nbsp; Mari is a writer and Jonna is an artist, and they live at opposite ends of a big apartment building, their studios connected by a long attic passageway. They have argued, worked, and laughed together for decades. Yet they've never really stopped taking each other by surprise.nbsp;Fair Playnbsp;shows us Mari and Jona's intertwined lives as they watch Fassbinder films and Westerns, critique each other's work, spend time on a solitary island (recognizable to readers of Jansson'snbsp;The Summer Book), travel through the American Southwest, and turn life into nothing less than art.

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