A Winter Book: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson Paperback – 2 Nov 2006
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A predicted major seller ... I feel it will probably do better even than The Summer Book (Sarah Broadhurst The Bookseller)
Beautifully crafted and deceptively simple-seeming, these stories are like pieces of scattered light. (Ali Smith)
These stories show a side of (Tove Jansson) that may be new to some British readers, who perhaps think of her, if at all, as a writer of charming stories for children. They are as tough as good rope, these stories, as smooth and odd and beautiful as sea-worn driftwood, as full of light and air and wind as the Nordic summer. We are lucky to have them collected at last. (Philip Pullman)
These stories are infused with such a strong sense of Tove Jansson's character that by the last page you feel on almost intimate terms with her. Determined, indignant, fearless as a child, we see how she develops - have the luxury of glimpsing her as an old lady too, still determined, still indignant. (Esther Freud)
Meeting the real Tove in these stories has been a an exciting and unnerving experience - a bit like meeting my own guardian angel. (Frank Cottrell Boyce)
About the Author
The writer and artist TOve Jansson (1941-2001) is best known as the creator of the MOOMIN stories, which have been published in thirty-five different languages. THE SUMMER BOOK, also published by Sort Of Books, was one of ten titles that she wrote for adults. A WINTER BOOK: SELECTED STORIES draws from five collections to present the best of Tove Jansson's short fiction, including her own favourite stories.
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I was expecting to be captivated by this book too but it just didn't have the same spark. It felt to me that it was trapped between factual autobiography, which was quaint but largely uninteresting, and the wild flights of fancy of a little girl, which were charming but uninteresting. I fell asleep several times while reading it and by the time I was two thirds of the way through I decided to put it back in my bookcase.
Some of the stories don't stand up for themselves; they seem like sketches that bridge other stories or paint just one aspect of the author, but without tension or much narrative drive. Others, however, are like Zen paintings on the relationshion between humans and nature, perfect glimpses of a life dedicated to the outdoors as a way of discovering the interior. Tove's writing is full of anecdotes which are slightly quirky and probably good representations of Finnish humour. There's a certain innocence to her stories that makes A Winter Book as warm and bright as a dreamed summer.
Some of the descriptions were lovely but on the whole I just didn't enjoy it much.
Later adult stories include 'the Squirrel' where a strange and isolated woman living on an island strikes up a love-hate relationship with a squirrel, and finally 'Taking Leave' where she and her partner finally have to leave the island as they're getting older.
A number of b/w photos throughout give added interest.
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