The Summer Book – Finland – Tove Jansson

tove

Spend  a moment on an idyllic Finnish island and learn to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Story in a nutshell

An artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter  Sophie spend an idyllic summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. Spending time together in this gorgeous setting changes them in ways they could not have foreseen – it’s two people learning to live in a new environment and appreciating what is around them. The majesty of the sea, the windswept grassy banks and the shining glass waters are as captivating as anything you will ever experience.

Place and setting

gulf-of-finlad

The 22 vignettes within the book show another beautiful side to the island that  the characters in the book find themselves on. Each vignette is a chance to look at something in detail and in a way we might not have looked at before.

The tiny island within the Gulf of finland is very similar to that where Tove spent time herself with her own family and so this is almost an ode to the calm , peacefu and serene world which she loved so much.

this is a tender, poignant and subtle novel – little happens in the way of plot but so much happens in the way of new beginning and new ways to seeing the wold. Nature, the majesty of the sea and how people are just a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things. And  how we should look more closely and appreciate the beauty all around us.

The island from the cover
The island from the book

Each vignette is as self-contained as each and every island in the Finnish archipelago. There is no thread or time line as such which eaves each one to be enjoyed and contemplated in its entirety. We could be visiting this island over one summer or several – it doesn’t matter – what does matter is the feeling that you have of having visited the island, of feeling de stressed, calm and honoured that you have been to such a place. You don’t want to read the next vignette too quickly for fear that the mist of nostalgia from the last one will fade. But you do and the mist from the next one clears and you are once again in a place where you want to look around you and capture the moment in your mind. the pace of life here is the same pace with which you should read this book – in time with the waves lapping up at the side of the rocky banks.

The relationship between Sophia and her grandmother is unique and poignant as it has a dark side –  ‘Sophia woke up and remembered that they had come back to the island and that she had a bed to herself because her mother was dead.’  More poignantly still is the fact that Tove wrote this book not long after losing her own mother. So the feeling that the stories are one of healing and the island a symbol of this new beginning is one that continues on and where there might be storms to break up the calm island setting.

Sophie and her grandmother make for a lovely set of people you would wish to spend time with. They are funny, they argue, they bicker, they have their own little worlds and they love each other and are healing together. They can be cranky and unreasonable like the rest of us.

I wanted to go to this island, I wanted to spend time with  both of them. I wanted to experience their understanding of the world around them and feel that I could learn a great deal from these two.

A lovely calm and peaceful moment in your busy reading life.

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