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Summer Book [Hardcover]

Tove Jansson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition £4.19  
Hardcover --  
Hardcover, 15 Sep 1975 --  
Paperback £6.29  

Book Description

15 Sep 1975
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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (15 Sep 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091247802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091247805
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,106,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

TOVE JANSSON (1914-2001) is revered around the world as one of the foremost children's authors of the twentieth century for her illustrated Moomin chapter books.

Product Description


"The Summer Book is a marvellously uplifting read, full of gentle humour and wisdom. -- Daily Telegraph, 24 May 2003 Justine Picardie (extract)

"A marvellous book…. The prose is sublime: plain, but not oppressively so. -- Independent on Sunday, 11 May 2003, Murrough O’Brien (extract)

"Few books since Robinson Crusoe have evoked the joys of island living so powerfully as this Finnish novella. -- The Observer, PAPERBACK OF THE WEEK, 15 June 2003

A wonderful novel to devour in the sunshine . . . full of charm and character. -- The Independent, 50 BEST BOOKS FOR SUMMER, 28 June 2003, Benedicte Page

An odd but beautiful novel which blends humour and poetry with detailed observation of tiny things. -- Daily Mail, 30 May 2003, Georgia Metcalfe

Every so often, a book is published that captures something in us. . . . The Summer Book is one of those. -- The Daily Telegraph, 28 June 2003, Rachel Simhon

It's hard to describe the astonishing achievement of Jansson's artistry . . . a perfection of the small, quiet read. -- The Guardian, BOOK OF THE WEEK, 12 July 2003, Ali Smith

Jansson was a genius, a woman of profound wisdom and great artistry, and this is a book to treasure. --The Guardian, HOLIDAY READING, 28 June 2003, Philip Pullman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Tove Jansson was born in Helsinki in 1914. She captured much of her own life and spirit in The Summer Book, which was her personal favourite among her own novels. She is most famous for the series of Moomin characters which she created in 1945. Her books have been compared to the works of Lewis Carroll and J.R.R Tolkien. Jansson died on 27 June 2001. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
100 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small, but perfectly formed 5 Aug 2003
By A Customer
Beautifully-written, 'The Summer Book' focuses upon the relationship between a little girl, Sophia and her wilful, yet wise grandmother as they spend the summer together on a remote Finnish island.
Based on Jansson's own family experiences and love of nature, the stories are deceptively simplistic. The author manages to cram a huge amount of ideas, observations and description into a relatively short space without being sentimental or over-descriptive. The characters are excellent. The grandmother and Sophia are feisty individuals who enjoy questioning the world and their conversations can be at times, both hilarious and touching.
This edition has also been produced with real care. Esther Freud's foreword is probably one of the most fascinating that I have read in a long time(she visits the island and meets the 'grown-up' Sophia) and the inclusion of photographs of the island and Jansson's family only adds to the slightly sad beauty of the novel.
For me, it sums up what great literature should be. It's an easy and enjoyable book to read, but you leave with the impression of having touched on some huge ideas. I'm looking forward to reading it many times over in the future.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding short novel. 3 Aug 2003
By A Customer
“The Summer Book” is episodic, detailing events from long summers spent on a remote Island off the coast of Finland, and concentrating on the rapport between the recently motherless six-year old Sophia and her Grandmother. Although short, the book covers a lot of ground – a clear and lucid observation of the natural history of the Island and the surrounding sea, reflections on aging and the end of life and, above all, a sharply drawn portrait of the relationship between young and old.
I didn’t feel the book was particularly well served either by the introduction or by the presentation but that shouldn’t put anyone off.
This excellent book tells its tale shorn of sentimentality and platitude. The prose style (I suppose that’s also a nod in the direction of the translation) is simple and elegant. It left me wanting to tone down my enthusiasm in case I put my friends and relatives off reading it.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Scandinavian classic 4 April 2009
I came to this book with misgivings. It was a choice for our book club, and I approached it thinking it would be another load or portentous cliches a la Paolo Cuelo, or as twee as AA Milne's poems (Dorothy Parker verdict: Tonstant Weader Fwowed Up).

How wrong I was. This is an instant classic, a book you will return to over and over, and anyone who can't see that is not reading with their brain. it's a deceptively simple series of incidents on a tiny island over a summer between Grandmother and Granddaughter Sophia. There is a father, a strong presence who never says anything except when it is time to leave. Some strangers intrude from time to time, loud and weird, but the two close ranks against them. Mostly they potter around, while the grandmother gives the best example of parenting I know in literature.

There are many strengths to the book. Firstly, it has that kind of fascination with minutiae which can have you looking into a rock pool for hours. Remember as a kid how on long summer holidays you could lose yourself for days just mooching or making something stupid? (I remember I spent two months tunnelling to Australia when I was eight.) "The Summer Book" really captures that.

It also captures an essential Finno-Swedish quality. Scandinavia is full of grannies like this one - feisty, practical old women full of love but also self-contained. And all Swedes have a wooden hut somewhere miles from anywhere they disappear to for the summer. Read this book and you'll never need to visit the Gulf of Finland.

This is allied to a real feeling for countryside and ecology, written in 1972 way before ecology was fashionable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant island summer 9 July 2008
This is the most beautifully written book, poignant, sad, wise, joyful, and not a shred of mawkish sentimentality to spoil it.
It tells of the loving, spiky relationship between an angry little girl whose mother has died, and her grandmother who has suffered all the joys and losses of a long life, lived to the full, sometimes raging at the frustrations/indignities of old age, some days calmly accepting them. (The saddest person in the book seems to be the shadowy figure of the father, his back turned to them, as he sits as his desk and buries his grief in work.)
Jansson brings the beauty of their sparse, tiny island vividly to life ... its stones, mosses, the colours of the sea, until you feel that, like the grandmother, you could feel your way around it in the dark.
I think this is one of those books I am going to remember for the rest of my life.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, beautiful, philosophical... 8 Nov 2003
By A Customer
I rejoice that this short work has come into print again, though it's rather sad that it took the author's recent death to prompt the publishers into action. I'd read an extract in a guide to the top 100 books of the twentieth century and was surprised and disappointed not to be able to get my hands on the full edition.

Jansson has an inate understanding of the wisdom and skewed world-view of children, and manages to capture the fragile - and ephemeral - friendship which can exist between the very old and the very young. There is a freshness about her style which never teeters into whimsy. A rare achievement indeed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful book by Tove Jansson - should be read by all grandmothers and granddaughters
Published 4 days ago by Peter Davidson
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful
Haunting & visually stunning writing. Could smell the sea & hear the waves. Sorry to finish book as it was so atmospheric
Published 10 days ago by Eleanor Logan
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Sweet stories but no plot, and no spatial control.
Published 16 days ago by Alison
5.0 out of 5 stars A quiet tale that reminds us that life is often ...
A quiet tale that reminds us that life is often concerned with small everyday events and that relationships are cemented by sharing modest daily tasks. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Jay
3.0 out of 5 stars easy reading
Lovely book, easy to read in the summer whilst baby is asleep!
Published 1 month ago by ana
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong emotional pull
A life enhancing read, this little book. There is no plot as such - more a series of short stories about life on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland over one summer. Read more
Published 1 month ago by M. D. Holley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Concise, touching, it satys in your nind over years and has a lot to teach
Published 2 months ago by Diana Humphrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever
Will stay with me always. Wild,poignant, gently thought provoking,tender,and amusing. I read a lot and this book has sent me off on a discovery of the authors other work including... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. Snaylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by johanna
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle yet intense
There are no big story lines, just beautifully drawn characters, vividly described landscapes and the rhythms of daily life on a Scandinavian island where a family stay in their... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kate 120
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