Tove Jansson is an expert at showing character development through dialogue and the interaction of a few characters. In this short novel, a collection of discrete vignettes, an old woman and her granddaughter are forced together on an isolated island. The richness of the flora, the intervention of others, and the constant rhythms of the sea provide the backdrop to their existence. Gradually, we construct their stories: the death of the girl’s mother, the father’s isolation, the grandmother’s readiness for death. The writing and translation are sublime. This is a timeless classic.
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal, with a foreword by Esther Freud, Sort Of Books, 172 pp, £6.99, 2009, ISBN 0-9542217-1-0