Book Review: A Winter Book: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson.

A Winter Book: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson. Published by Sort Of Books, 2006

This is another gem I came across entirely by accident. The title screams KATIE METCALFE, YOU MUST READ ME. I’d never read any of  Jansson’s work for adults before, (Jansson created the Moomins) so this little collection new ground. And heck, it was an absolute joy. Okay, so some of the pieces are more sketches than actual stories, and there are times when you think ‘I’d like a little bit more depth,’ but as a collection it flowed wonderfully from one enchanting experience to the next. The writing weaves through the 20th’s century, giving us glimpses into Jannson’s life as a youngster and as an old woman. (She spent much of her life on a remote island in the Finnish gulf).

My favourite piece in the collection was The Iceberg. It makes me wring my hands like an excited kid just thinking about it. In this particular short tale, Jansson came across an iceberg whilst out sailing, and ‘staked claim’ on it, telling herself that if nobody else mentioned it, then it would remain hers. During the night, the young Jansson crept out of the house and went to find her iceberg. She found it, bumping against some rocks close to the shore. The iceberg was moving as one does when one breathes – it was trying to come to me. On one side of the iceberg was a grotto, and Jansson switched on her torch and threw it inside. It fell on its side and lit up the whole grotto, making it just as beautiful as I had imagined it would be. – It was so unbelievably beautiful that I had to get away from the whole thing as quickly as possible, send it away, do something! So I sat down firmly and placed both feet on the iceberg and pushed as hard as I could.

This collection is a small, yet beautiful and perfectly formed glimpse into a life which requires celebration and remembrance.

The picture you see below of Jansson is one I find utterly enchanting. I must have turned back the pages to look at it at least forty, fifty times.

I adore this image too. Jansson reminds me of one of her Moomin characters Little My.

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