The Summer Book (New York Review Books Classics)

The Summer Book - Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal, Kathryn Davis It's a long time since I sat down with a book and read it from cover-to-cover, but (apart from a necessary overnight sleep) that's what I did with The Summer Book.It's a book of small incidents and and close intimacies between a young girl, Sophia, and her grandmother, who spend their summer months together on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland. Even when the occasional large-scale event intrudes, such as the storm that Sophia prays for and then regrets, the focus is on the interplay between the child and her grandmother.I like it that both characters are given equal voice, the point of view flowing gently from one to the other. Papa is with them, a loved and often worried-over figure, but he's usually "off-stage".It's clear that the events of several summers are narrated in the course of the story, but there is little to indicate any growth in the relationship between the two - their attitudes towards each other are basically the same at the end as at the beginning: the child alternately loving and hating her grandmother and taking her presence for granted - she had never given thought to the fact that Grandmother must once have been married and that there was a Grandfather at some time in the past; Grandmother nurturing and cherishing the child, while finding her demands a nuisance and throwing petulant fits as unreasonable as those of the child's. The constancy of their relationship is a reflection of the endless summer days of the high latitudes. Ending the book with Sophia still a child, unchanged by adolescence and unaware of the minds and needs of others, Jansson creates something timeless.