The Summer Book

The Summer Book

Paperback - 2008
Average Rating:
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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.
Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, c2008
ISBN: 9781590172681
Branch Call Number: FIC JAN
Characteristics: xii, 170 p. : ill. ; 21 cm

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chin_chopper Apr 27, 2017

This was recommended to be by a cousin with whom I share happy summer cottage memories. I found the book to be much more about the relationship of child to grandma than anything else, though very evocative of long seemingly aimless summer days. Also loved the little drawings.

s
santiano9
Apr 17, 2017

Wonderful, wonderful book. Its simplicity is so uplifting and just made me feel good to read about the little girl, her grandmother and father spending their summer on a small island off the coasts of Finland.

m
mclarjh
Aug 04, 2016

Simple vignettes, spare writing style.

c
CAPoppy
Jul 08, 2015

I enjoyed reading this short book but I wanted to love it. It read like an Impressionist painting which used a lot of descriptive prose to develop each scene. A sweet and sometimes funny story which doesnt always flow easily throughout the chapters. Not the masterpiece I wanted but definitely worth reading.

s
sllgatsby
Apr 02, 2014

Best book I've read in at least a year, maybe two. So simple, yet so loaded with meaning and emotion.

Cdnbookworm Oct 09, 2012

This classic is a collection of vignettes illustrating summer months spent on an island in the Finnish archipelago. Jansson spent a great deal of her life on such an island, so knew it well. Here we have Sophia, a young girl spending the summer on the island with her grandmother and her father. The point of view moves seamlessly between Sophia and her grandmother, changing back and forth often and in a way that flows. The grandmother is ageing and her body doesn't always allow her to do what she wishes. Sometimes she gets cranky, but her love for Sophia shows. Sophia is impetuous and eager, but also emotional and sentimental. Her emotions are not checked and we see her anger, frustration, and eagerness. She seems to have boundless energy.
These glimpses reveal all the aspects of summer, from visitors to storms, lazy days to short jaunts. Sophia's father is a shadowy figure, present in the background only in all except the storm vignette where he plays a larger role. The two females are co-conspirators and entertain and look after each other. A lovely little book, timeless and full of nature.

d
deathbird
Sep 12, 2011

summer is trapped within the pages of this book. read just for the descriptions of the tiny island and the things sophia and her grandmother got up to.

s
sdoubleu
Jul 18, 2011

I really enjoyed the subtle plot and character development. Some inference is required, so that it feels almost like you are helping to create the story.

m
macierules
Aug 30, 2010

This book is on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list...simple, elegant prose and very little plot. Tove Jansson wrote this when she was 60, the year after her mother passed away.

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