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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Travelling light but arriving in style
This is a collection of 12 short stories with amazingly diverse subject matter - from the shopping concerns of nuclear disaster survivors to a teacher in the throes of a nervous breakdown (brilliantly depicted), from a horribly precocious and depressing child who comes to stay to a batty woman who steals other peoples memories and recounts them as her own. The concerns of...
Published on 17 July 2010 by Adrenalin Streams

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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad stories on the whole
Think I'll stick to Moomintrolls in future. This collection was quite depressing to me, though I lived in hope until I'd finished.
Published on 26 Jun. 2012 by susurro


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Travelling light but arriving in style, 17 July 2010
This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
This is a collection of 12 short stories with amazingly diverse subject matter - from the shopping concerns of nuclear disaster survivors to a teacher in the throes of a nervous breakdown (brilliantly depicted), from a horribly precocious and depressing child who comes to stay to a batty woman who steals other peoples memories and recounts them as her own. The concerns of getting old also find their way into a number of the stories; of time running out but concerns left to address and things left to do. Not all the stories are of the same standard but at least two thirds are extremely good and thought provoking. Jansson's precise, direct and incisive language is both refreshing and rewarding to read. Travelling Light delivers some wonderfully quirky and yet rewarding tales in its author's own unique style.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, strange, unique - twelve Tove Jansson short stories to treasure, 3 April 2011
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This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
Originally published in Swedish in 1987, "Travelling Light" has finally been published in English and is another fine addition to the Tove Jansson bibliography. It is a collection of twelve short stories that bear all the Jansson hallmarks: finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, commenting on human psychology, juxtaposing witty asides and harsh dialogue with moments of deep sadness, and with a strange humour lurking beneath it all. Most of the stories are around ten to fifteen pages in length, with central story "The Garden of Eden" by some distance the longest at around forty pages, and all are thoroughly engrossing.

Jansson never gets bogged down in description or crafted similes; her prose is extremely clean and precise - not a word is out of place, nothing is extraneous. As such, it can both be read as quite devoid of familiar literary devices but also as a wonderfully refrshing change of scenery. To use "clean" and "precise" is not to mean boring or lacking in personality; these stories are resolutely not boring - I often came away from the stories with the feeling that I had never read anything quite like it. Jansson's talent for writing about the surprising psychological aspects of the everyday and the ordinary is quite breathtaking, and she finds the most imaginative yet believable situations to write about. For example, an apparently simple story about a teacher and his partner leaving the city for a short break ("The Gulls") becomes a comment on existential despair and the power play in relationships. A woman visiting a relative in a foreign country ("The Garden of Eden") explores the interference of friends and the unspoken social rules and hierarchies inherent in small communities. A dinner party between friends ("The P.E. Teacher's Death") is interrupted by brutal dialogue and musings on the nature of life and suicide.

None of the stories ever feel mechanical, or like Jansson is trying to weave something together to give a clever moral message at the end. Nothing is spelled out. Instead, the reader is left with a series of vignettes, of situations, of ideas, and is left to make up their own mind. For me, this makes these stories all the more powerful and effective. If one got the sense that Jansson was trying to be "clever," the stories would devolve into little more than quirky set pieces. As it is, she lets the stories breathe and gives them space to be what they are, and sometimes what they are initially may appear to be something quite simple. But there's a depth and richness there, and it's easy to be deceived by her lack of florid language, but there's so much going on. She varies her narrative voice from story to story: sometimes first-person, sometimes third-person, sometimes male, sometimes female, and it makes for a diverse and consistently interesting collection. Her dialogue is simply wonderful, and the characters she writes about are often not scared of being rather forthright and rude, often humorously so.

Jansson of course deserves the credit for crafting such unique, beautiful, sad, funny stories, but kudos must also go to translator Silvester Mazzarella for his great work, to Ali Smith for an insightful introduction, and to Sort Of Books for bringing this work to English and to a new audience. It seems that there are a few more Jansson works yet to be translated into English, and I look forward to them eagerly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four and a half stars, 28 Sept. 2011
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Sabina (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
This is a book which I read crisply, not always the case with a collection of short stories. Tove Jansson's writing is unique in the way it carries you along in seemingly simple prose yet leaves a deep resonance and sense of place and relationships. So often what is not said echoes in the mind and completes what is presented.
The old man who stops over in 'A Foreign City' loses his hat and forgets the name of his hotel. The wrong hat returned to him by customs has an address inside it, so he takes a taxi there.
A literature professor arrives in a Spanish village ('The Garden of Eden') just as her hostess has had to leave. Amidst her idyllic surroundings she is soon thrust into the tensions within the ex-pat community. But keeping a certain detachment, she attempts to solve them.
In 'The Summer Child' the Fredrikson family decide to generously take a city boy on an island holiday with them, but he proves a trial with his eccentric critical personality.
'An Eightieth Birthday' provides the opportunity for realisations about the nature of true art and 'seeing.'
In 'Travelling Light' a man leaves his home with virtually no luggage and goes on a sea voyage wishing to be unencumbered by everybody else's emotional baggage. Can this be done?

Sometimes unsettlingly, or poignantly or surprisingly, with humour and with the author's cool, clear vision we are shown some of the things that separate and bring people together, the strangeness of the human condition. There is a particular Finnish island setting to some of these stories, and the fresh wind blowing there blows through the spare, generous prose and clears the head. We are not islands but sometimes alone, the author seems to say, but somehow together in it all too.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All hail Tove Jansson!, 23 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
If you haven't read any of the books for grown-ups by Tove Jansson (creator of The Moomins) then do. She is a writer of gentle yet poignant and thought-provoking tales for adults as well as children. Not all of her fiction has yet been translated into English, but if you like this then I can guarantee that you'll want to read more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most magical writer, 14 May 2014
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This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
Tove Jansson's adult fiction was an eye-opener to me when I discovered it, after having been a Moomin devotee since childhood. These translations of her novellas are superb: funny, bitter-sweet and unforgettable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rediscovered works of a classic artist and writer, 18 May 2014
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This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
Tove Jansson managed to write both wonderful children's literature and books for grown ups. You are there as you read, with detail that is light and magical.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, 24 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
a most charming book, joy to read
will highly recommend to take it with you on holiday and to read few stories every day
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Delightful Treasure, 7 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Travelling Light (Kindle Edition)
I love all of Tove Jansson's writing. As a short story writer she is utterly rewarding to read. I shall return again and again to this collection.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relaxing read, 25 April 2013
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This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
A big leap from my first introduction to Tove, as I used to love watching the Moomins! Lovely short stories and pure escapism into other peoples lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 30 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Travelling Light (Paperback)
Eminently readable
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Travelling Light
Travelling Light by Tove Jansson (Paperback - 8 July 2010)
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