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Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words: The Authorised Biography

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The Finnish-Swedish writer and artist Tove Jansson achieved worldwide fame as the creator of the Moomin stories, written between 1945 and 1970 and still in print in more than twenty languages. However, the Moomins were only a part of her prodigious output. Already admired in Nordic art circles as a painter, cartoonist and illustrator, she would go on to write a series of c The Finnish-Swedish writer and artist Tove Jansson achieved worldwide fame as the creator of the Moomin stories, written between 1945 and 1970 and still in print in more than twenty languages. However, the Moomins were only a part of her prodigious output. Already admired in Nordic art circles as a painter, cartoonist and illustrator, she would go on to write a series of classic novels and short stories. She remains Scandinavia's best loved author.Tove Jansson's work reflected the tenets of her life: her love of family (and special bond with her mother), of nature, and her insistence on freedom to pursue her art. Love and work was the motto she chose for herself and her approach to both was joyful and uncompromising. If her relationships with men foundered on her ambivalence towards marriage, those with women came as a revelation, especially the love and companionship she found with her long-time partner, the artist Tuulikki Pietilä, with whom she lived on the solitary island of Klovharu. In this meticulously researched, authorised biography, Boel Westin draws together the many threads of Jansson's life: from the studies interrupted to help her family; the dark shades of war and her emergence as an artist with a studio of her own; to the years of Moomin-mania, and later novel writing. Based on numerous conversations with Tove, and unprecedented access to her journals, letters and personal archives, Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words offers a rare and privileged insight into the world of a writer whom Philip Pullman described, simply, as 'a genius'.


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The Finnish-Swedish writer and artist Tove Jansson achieved worldwide fame as the creator of the Moomin stories, written between 1945 and 1970 and still in print in more than twenty languages. However, the Moomins were only a part of her prodigious output. Already admired in Nordic art circles as a painter, cartoonist and illustrator, she would go on to write a series of c The Finnish-Swedish writer and artist Tove Jansson achieved worldwide fame as the creator of the Moomin stories, written between 1945 and 1970 and still in print in more than twenty languages. However, the Moomins were only a part of her prodigious output. Already admired in Nordic art circles as a painter, cartoonist and illustrator, she would go on to write a series of classic novels and short stories. She remains Scandinavia's best loved author.Tove Jansson's work reflected the tenets of her life: her love of family (and special bond with her mother), of nature, and her insistence on freedom to pursue her art. Love and work was the motto she chose for herself and her approach to both was joyful and uncompromising. If her relationships with men foundered on her ambivalence towards marriage, those with women came as a revelation, especially the love and companionship she found with her long-time partner, the artist Tuulikki Pietilä, with whom she lived on the solitary island of Klovharu. In this meticulously researched, authorised biography, Boel Westin draws together the many threads of Jansson's life: from the studies interrupted to help her family; the dark shades of war and her emergence as an artist with a studio of her own; to the years of Moomin-mania, and later novel writing. Based on numerous conversations with Tove, and unprecedented access to her journals, letters and personal archives, Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words offers a rare and privileged insight into the world of a writer whom Philip Pullman described, simply, as 'a genius'.

30 review for Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words: The Authorised Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karolina Kat

    I loved Moomins as a child, and so did my father before me. I was eager to learn more about the life and inspirations of Tove Jansson. I have mixed feelings towards this particular biography, as it is not a biography in the strict sense of the word. There's a lot more space devoted to interpretation of Jansson's works and paintings, while the facts from life, dates, etc. are all chaotic and jumbled - people appear and disappear suddenly, the writer jumps a decade ahead when talking about early ch I loved Moomins as a child, and so did my father before me. I was eager to learn more about the life and inspirations of Tove Jansson. I have mixed feelings towards this particular biography, as it is not a biography in the strict sense of the word. There's a lot more space devoted to interpretation of Jansson's works and paintings, while the facts from life, dates, etc. are all chaotic and jumbled - people appear and disappear suddenly, the writer jumps a decade ahead when talking about early childhood. As a biography - it's a difficult read to follow, however it is still a source of great knowledge on the author, especially if someone is interested more in tracing her inspirations, emotions and thoughts throughout her novels. The book excels at presenting the artist. I think it's due to the fact that the author - prof. Boel Westin - has devoted her academic career to unraveling Tove Jansson. Thus it is, in my opinion, a must-read for all those who want to explore all the secrets that are hidden in the Moomin Valley. Those who want to focus on the artist's life rather than her works however may find themselves disappointed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'm reading the stupendous English translation with fabulous end papers, photographs and illustrations. I'm reading the stupendous English translation with fabulous end papers, photographs and illustrations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    Tove Jansson is perhaps the most famous Finnish artist ever, known primarily for the Moomins - a family of friendly hippopotamus-like trolls - and the adventures they have with all manner of characters in Moominvalley. However, as Boel Westin shows, Jansson was a prolific author and painter throughout her life whose love of art - painting especially so - drove her forward. Westin has been granted extensive access to Jansson's archives, correspondence, and works and her biography is rich in detai Tove Jansson is perhaps the most famous Finnish artist ever, known primarily for the Moomins - a family of friendly hippopotamus-like trolls - and the adventures they have with all manner of characters in Moominvalley. However, as Boel Westin shows, Jansson was a prolific author and painter throughout her life whose love of art - painting especially so - drove her forward. Westin has been granted extensive access to Jansson's archives, correspondence, and works and her biography is rich in detail. Throughout the book, Westin explores the thematic links between Jansson's artistic output, how her novels and paintings display the inner workings of the artist's mind; the literary criticism Westin provides is a welcome addition to scholarly discussion of Jansson's literary works and Moomin series, which at face-value seem just books written for children, are in fact deeply grounded in Jansson's own experiences of the Second World War (The Moomins and the Great Flood and Comet in Moominland), her relationships with her father and mother (and their own respective relationships) (Moominpappa at Sea) and her relationship on a meta-fictional level with the series itself (Moominvalley in November). The series is surprisingly multi-faceted and later instalments showcase the difficulty in classifying Jansson's work as strictly for children. Westin chronologically follows Jansson through life and the reader gains a valuable insight not only into the work of this author and artist, but also into the life and love of Jansson. This deeply-personal level of narration focuses on the two things in Jansson's life that she deemed most important: work and love. Work has already been mentioned above; as for love, it her her love of work but also her love of family and Tuulikki Pietilä that comes through Westin's writing. Yet, it is Tove Jansson's own work that bears the strongest testimony to these two loves. Pietilä and Jansson feature in several works that have a distinctly autobiographical feel to them - Fair Play being chief among them. One of Finland's most decorated and talented artists, and also one of most notable writers in Swedish, Tove Jansson is, Philip Pullman said, "a genius" and Boel Westin's detailed and well-researched biography will be the standard work on her life for many years to come. This book offers a fascinating insight not only into her work and analysis thereof, but also her life - a life lived in service to love and to art.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    A must-read for any Tove Jansson fan! I knew a bit about her life from the BBC documentary but this book goes into further detail about the progression of her art, writing, and the Moomins. If you liked the documentary you will like this even more. She really was a fascinating woman and reading this book has only increased my admiration for her. The book itself is written well and has illustrations and photographs throughout (this might not be that important but as an art student I always give e A must-read for any Tove Jansson fan! I knew a bit about her life from the BBC documentary but this book goes into further detail about the progression of her art, writing, and the Moomins. If you liked the documentary you will like this even more. She really was a fascinating woman and reading this book has only increased my admiration for her. The book itself is written well and has illustrations and photographs throughout (this might not be that important but as an art student I always give extra points for pictures in books.) A+!!!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    Worthy but dull. I got very little sense of Jansson's personality or thought amongst the dense parade of facts, and I felt there was a distinct lack of context, to place her in the society and life of the time. Worthy but dull. I got very little sense of Jansson's personality or thought amongst the dense parade of facts, and I felt there was a distinct lack of context, to place her in the society and life of the time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helen Heath

    Such an interesting life but somehow this biography was a bit boring, poor narrative and bad structure.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anastasiya Mozgovaya

    a great book about a simple life full of extraordinary creativity and hard work.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adele

    Everything you could ever possibly need to know about the most wonderful painter, illustrator and author I've ever known. Very inspiring and emotional. A must-read for any Tove Jansson/Moomin enthusiast. Tove is an inspiration to work hard, love passionately and appreciate art in all its forms. Everything you could ever possibly need to know about the most wonderful painter, illustrator and author I've ever known. Very inspiring and emotional. A must-read for any Tove Jansson/Moomin enthusiast. Tove is an inspiration to work hard, love passionately and appreciate art in all its forms.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    3.5 rounded up for what I can only speculate this book would be if the translation flowed better. I'm so happy it's been written, Tove Jansson has been so fascinating to me ever since The True Deceiver. 3.5 rounded up for what I can only speculate this book would be if the translation flowed better. I'm so happy it's been written, Tove Jansson has been so fascinating to me ever since The True Deceiver.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    Very sad to say that I got bored and couldn't read it all. A very dry account which jumps about in a way that I found really odd. I feel that I learned more about Tove through her short story collections that through this book. Very sad to say that I got bored and couldn't read it all. A very dry account which jumps about in a way that I found really odd. I feel that I learned more about Tove through her short story collections that through this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm Frawley

    I knew nothing about this Finnish artist & writer until I picked this book up. Her life story was certainly interesting but the telling of it was kind of bloodless. But that may be the fault of the translation. Illustrations throughout are always a good thing, some in colour.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Asta Nyyssönen

    An in-depth and well crafted portrait of a fascinating woman.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lee Paris

    I came late to the Moomins. I was an adult when I read a lengthy essay in the New York Review of Books about these strange trolls which looked like a cross between hippos and Al Kapp's shmoos. (Jansson once wrote to Kapp and made a similar observation). I then went on to read and re-read all the Moominvalley saga from Comet in Moominland to Moominvalley in November. The only non-Moomin book I've read is The Summer Book, a novel which Westin suggests comes closest to capturing the atmosphere of h I came late to the Moomins. I was an adult when I read a lengthy essay in the New York Review of Books about these strange trolls which looked like a cross between hippos and Al Kapp's shmoos. (Jansson once wrote to Kapp and made a similar observation). I then went on to read and re-read all the Moominvalley saga from Comet in Moominland to Moominvalley in November. The only non-Moomin book I've read is The Summer Book, a novel which Westin suggests comes closest to capturing the atmosphere of her famous series. Many of her fans did not warm to her later "hard-boiled" short stories. Westin's biography won't disappoint anyone with any interest in Tove Jansson in all the guises: illustrator, painter, writer, daughter, lover, traveler. My only reservation is that Westin slips into a mode of exposition common in doctoral dissertations when she analyses in depth Jansson's artistry. If I'd read the biography before I had first explored Moominland I would likely not have been tempted to proceed. Westin is very much on Team-Tove so don't expect to find any feet of clay on a woman she clearly admires as an artist and friend. The only slightly sour note is the occasional brief mention without comment about Jansson's troubles with the taxman. I read this book on a Kindle reader. Sadly that vehicle does not do justice to the many illustrations which dot the text - they appear washed out on the screen: gray and illegible.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    Not for the casual reader. As someone who grew up steeped in the Moomin books, which were (and still are) a defining characteristic affinity for my family, I was fascinated by this deep dive into the life and works of Tove Jansson. But even I thought it was a bit detailed and dragged at times. I read the book on the recommendation of my sister, who also recommends Tove Jansson's letters. But I think I'll give them a miss even though I did enjoy this one. I thought I knew a fair amount about Tove Not for the casual reader. As someone who grew up steeped in the Moomin books, which were (and still are) a defining characteristic affinity for my family, I was fascinated by this deep dive into the life and works of Tove Jansson. But even I thought it was a bit detailed and dragged at times. I read the book on the recommendation of my sister, who also recommends Tove Jansson's letters. But I think I'll give them a miss even though I did enjoy this one. I thought I knew a fair amount about Tove Jansson before starting this book but there were so many things I didn't know: first and most important, that Jansson considered herself a painter, first and foremost; she regarded her hugely popular Moomin books (and especially the Moomin comic strips) with ambivalence at best because they took so much time away from her painting. Imagine writing and illustrating all these masterpieces while longing to do something else! And honestly the paintings weren't that great from what I could see in the illustrations. Which just goes to show that artists aren't necessarily the best judges of their own work. The parts I enjoyed most were the inside jokes and explanations of things in my beloved Moomin books. Moominmamma really was based closely on Tove's mother, whom she called Ham. Thin-gummy and Bob were based on Tove and her first lesbian lover. And "mymble," as in "the Mymble's daughter," was a playful term for sex and/or lovers in Tove's bohemian circle. And so on.

  15. 4 out of 5

    James

    This is a great overview of the life and work of Tove Jansson, but it is not without its faults. I found the book jumped around in time a lot so that things got jumbled, especially in the first half. I think footnotes might have helped remedy that, but I get they aren't for everyone. There's also some questionable analysis of Tove's work, which seemed unnecessary. If you haven't read all of the Moomin books there will be a lot of spoilers here, so I suggest you read as much of Tove's work as pos This is a great overview of the life and work of Tove Jansson, but it is not without its faults. I found the book jumped around in time a lot so that things got jumbled, especially in the first half. I think footnotes might have helped remedy that, but I get they aren't for everyone. There's also some questionable analysis of Tove's work, which seemed unnecessary. If you haven't read all of the Moomin books there will be a lot of spoilers here, so I suggest you read as much of Tove's work as possible before picking this up. But for fans who have read almost everything there will be some insight which is enjoyable to follow. The book also doesn't answer all of the questions you might have, such as how it never discusses the Snork character, Snorkmaiden's brother who suddenly disappears from the series. Instead the focus is mainly on Moomin and his parents when the characters are discussed. I was also disappointed that the Moomin comic is rarely mentioned after Lars Jansson takes it over. At some point he too stopped working on it presumably, but this isn't mentioned, and even his death is only revealed in passing on the final pages. He died a year before Tove. These were some minor issues I had with the book, and it was a mostly enjoyable read for all 500 pages. There are some nice images included (though they too are presented in no apparent order).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne Herbison

    A lengthy, layered work which builds up a comprehensive picture of Tove Jansson and her work. The academic depth of analysis by Westin adds to the pleasure of reading this biography. It reveals how Jansson's writing is intensely personal but shaped by a clear artistic drive. Jansson's motivation to work and love is evident in her work and her love of life despite enormous challenges, particularly living through the war in Helsinki. The island summers gave her the space she needed and reminded me A lengthy, layered work which builds up a comprehensive picture of Tove Jansson and her work. The academic depth of analysis by Westin adds to the pleasure of reading this biography. It reveals how Jansson's writing is intensely personal but shaped by a clear artistic drive. Jansson's motivation to work and love is evident in her work and her love of life despite enormous challenges, particularly living through the war in Helsinki. The island summers gave her the space she needed and reminded me of the little island houses I saw when in Finland, and brought back detail from The Summer Book by Tove Jansson which I read last year. The colour plates in the book added more fascinating detail, as did the illustrations throughout the book. I watched a BBC documentary after I'd finished the book and was pleased to find that the author of the biography was a commentator throughout. There was also archival footage, particularly of the island, but also of Jansson's mother and niece who, it turns out, were the two main characters in The Summer Book. The Moomin machine keeps turning out more cartoons and films, but the original work is the real thing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I grew up reading the Moomim books, which were very popular in our home. It was therefore interesting to read more about Tove Jansson, the Finnish author and artist who created them. I was unaware that she was first and foremost an artist, training in both Finland and France just before the Second World War. She was known for her painting and use of colour and particularly for her self portraits which show great confidence and sense of self. The book is beautiful, with many photographs of her fa I grew up reading the Moomim books, which were very popular in our home. It was therefore interesting to read more about Tove Jansson, the Finnish author and artist who created them. I was unaware that she was first and foremost an artist, training in both Finland and France just before the Second World War. She was known for her painting and use of colour and particularly for her self portraits which show great confidence and sense of self. The book is beautiful, with many photographs of her family life, studios, places of importance and of course her art, including several color plates. The writing is also engaging. I found the narrative difficult to follow sometimes, often feeling as though I had missed a key bit of information earlier on. I think this was partly the writing style of the author, who provides information in roundabout ways at time, and may also be a weakness of the translation into English. I put this book down once I had reached about the halfway mark, as I felt I had learned all I wanted to about Tove Jansson, including the publication of the first four Moomim books, by that time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    florunia

    This book was dominated by chaos, and it felt a bit like a textbook 😕 It was tiring to jump along the timeline - neither chronological nor thematic order, I was constantly getting lost. I would also like to see more illustrations, practically every description of a drawing / painting should have a photo. I know that then the books would be 3x thicker and more expensive and there could be problems with copyright, but what can I do - I would like that 😉 The easiest to read were the chapters about This book was dominated by chaos, and it felt a bit like a textbook 😕 It was tiring to jump along the timeline - neither chronological nor thematic order, I was constantly getting lost. I would also like to see more illustrations, practically every description of a drawing / painting should have a photo. I know that then the books would be 3x thicker and more expensive and there could be problems with copyright, but what can I do - I would like that 😉 The easiest to read were the chapters about Moomins (because I was curious), and the most interesting - fragments of Tove's letters, because then she "spoke" herself, without the author's filter. 'Cause how does she know what Tove felt, what she thought? To what extent does it result from letters, notes and how much is her interpretation? Tove gives the impression of an "artistic soul", you can see a great need to constantly create(and a bit of a workaholism resulting from it). It was sad how much the Moomins had tired her and how she had to fight for "power" over them. Many times when reading I had the thought: "I'd rather read Moomins" 😉 Especially since I only know them from cartoon 😅 I have to finally read them some day.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vcmc

    A fascinating account of Tove Jansson's life and work. Perhaps the author is a little too close to Tove Jansson for objectivity. Also the book is at times over long and rambling. However I am really pleased to have read it and now look forward to reading and re-reading Tove's work with more insight into her motivation and ideas. A fascinating account of Tove Jansson's life and work. Perhaps the author is a little too close to Tove Jansson for objectivity. Also the book is at times over long and rambling. However I am really pleased to have read it and now look forward to reading and re-reading Tove's work with more insight into her motivation and ideas.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kjerstif

    Will add review once i processes

  21. 4 out of 5

    Märta Namslauer

    It’s really good and I will always be inspired by Tove Jansson’s life and work.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Arrianne

    This is the second similar book I've read recently, focussing on an author/artist and their approach to what they do. The first was Philip Pullman's Daemon Voices, which is pieces he has written over the years about his writing and what he thinks about writing and art. This is a book written about Tove Jansson, clearly by someone who knows her life inside out, and has had a chance to speak to the woman herself and form a relationship with her over time. It follows her career and while her persona This is the second similar book I've read recently, focussing on an author/artist and their approach to what they do. The first was Philip Pullman's Daemon Voices, which is pieces he has written over the years about his writing and what he thinks about writing and art. This is a book written about Tove Jansson, clearly by someone who knows her life inside out, and has had a chance to speak to the woman herself and form a relationship with her over time. It follows her career and while her personal life and beliefs are unavoidably included, it is more about the messages of her work and her approach to it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paula Bardell-Hedley

    Tove Jansson, author of the Moomins and one of the great idiosyncratic talents of the 20th century, must surely have found her ideal biographer in Boel Westin. With previously published works on Lewis Carroll and August Strindberg, this Professor of Literature at the University of Stockholm knew Jansson personally and wrote a PhD dissertation on her ideologies and philosophies. A Swedish-speaking Finn, Jansson was both novelist and artist, but became so well known for creating her bevy of eccent Tove Jansson, author of the Moomins and one of the great idiosyncratic talents of the 20th century, must surely have found her ideal biographer in Boel Westin. With previously published works on Lewis Carroll and August Strindberg, this Professor of Literature at the University of Stockholm knew Jansson personally and wrote a PhD dissertation on her ideologies and philosophies. A Swedish-speaking Finn, Jansson was both novelist and artist, but became so well known for creating her bevy of eccentric “beings” (most closely resembling terrestrial manatees or curvaceous hippos) that people tend to be unaware she was a respected painter, cartoonist and illustrator in her homeland long before becoming a world-famous children's author. Westin does much to rectify this oversight, with some of her most captivating chapters devoted to Tove's time as a humble student, her early exhibitions, travels in Europe and her struggle to cope during the dark and depressing war years. Of this period Jansson wrote: “One day people will say that we lived in interesting times, in a great period. But I think the great events around us have only diminished us. People cannot manage to be magnificent in a long-lasting war." Westin was given complete access to Jansson's vast personal archive of notes, letters, diaries, illustrations and sketches in order to research this fascinating 500-page book: an affectionate, honest but never salacious life history. She treats with respect Tove's deep and joyous relationships with women, most notably her soul-mate, Tuulikki Pietilä (known as Tooti), describing their extraordinary, symbiotic existence with immense understanding and warmth. She also explores in considerable detail her artistic background (her father was a sculptor, her mother a graphic designer), close friendships, passion for isolated islands and the years following the final Moomin story when she focussed on writing for adults. The Moomin books, published between 1945 and 1970, became big business from the 1950s onwards and their popularity merely increased with longevity. These days, when you visit Finland, you can stay in Moomin-themed hotel rooms; go to Moominworld, a theme park on the island of Kailo; and enjoy savoury pancakes at the Moomin cafe in Kuopio. Indeed, so much are these small philosophical trolls now an integral part of Finnish culture, they even adorn the wings of Finnair – fondly known as 'The Official Airline of the Moomins'. It is no longer necessary for fans to travel to the Nordics in order to seek out Moomin merchandise, for they can now drop into The Moomin Shop in London's Covent Garden Market and acquire anything from Moomin-themed make-up bags and bath towels to Snufkin candles and Little My cushion covers. There are even Moomin cafes and shops to be found as far afield as Japan, Hong Kong, China and Thailand. One wonders what the famously high-principled Jansson would have made of this extreme commercialisation of her creations. She was exceedingly protective of her work throughout her life and seldom permitted companies to use her inventions for profit – refusing Walt Disney's request for the exclusive rights to the word Moomin. Nevertheless, I feel sure she would be quietly pleased that the Moomins continue to resonate with 21st century children and adults in countries across the globe. In this intelligent and meticulously researched biography (adeptly translated by Silvester Mazzarella), Westin has succeeded in capturing the spirit of Tove Jansson (who passed away in 2001 at the age of 86) - a singular woman with a strong work ethic and rich imagination – in short, a genius of Moominmental proportions. (4.5 Stars)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Polly Clarke

    This was a hard book to read. I borrowed this from my library and had to reissue 6 times. I dipped in now and again and was always surprised at how little I had chomped through it. I got the point of, 'I've got this far, I might as well continue' and I was relieved to have finally finished. Boel Westin has an intense relationship with Tove's life and she includes all and everything we would possibly want to know. Some of it warms my cockles but there are times where I am chewing cud. I much pref This was a hard book to read. I borrowed this from my library and had to reissue 6 times. I dipped in now and again and was always surprised at how little I had chomped through it. I got the point of, 'I've got this far, I might as well continue' and I was relieved to have finally finished. Boel Westin has an intense relationship with Tove's life and she includes all and everything we would possibly want to know. Some of it warms my cockles but there are times where I am chewing cud. I much prefer to read Tove in her own wonderful words but if you're up for a challenge, then read this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alina-Diana Välinen

    As a fan of the Moomins, I was very eager to find out more about their creator. I must say that Tove's was a very inspiring life. I cannot wait to read all the other books I hadn't heard of before. The biography was interesting and exhaustive, but I sometimes felt that the author was talking about characters or events in Tove's life that I was supposed to have known already, and I didn't, obviously, and that made me feel confused. As a fan of the Moomins, I was very eager to find out more about their creator. I must say that Tove's was a very inspiring life. I cannot wait to read all the other books I hadn't heard of before. The biography was interesting and exhaustive, but I sometimes felt that the author was talking about characters or events in Tove's life that I was supposed to have known already, and I didn't, obviously, and that made me feel confused.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Małgorzata Matyjasek

    It is a really well done biography: with all the photos, documents, copies of handwritten letters and so on and its satysfying slow rythym so close to Moomin narrations, it is almost a pity it is sometimes a bit chaotic, going round in circles through some decades... but mayby there is a method in this chaos, showing Tove's life that was ordered in its own chaotic way, at least that is the impression one gets after reading this book. Nonetheless worth reading ;) It is a really well done biography: with all the photos, documents, copies of handwritten letters and so on and its satysfying slow rythym so close to Moomin narrations, it is almost a pity it is sometimes a bit chaotic, going round in circles through some decades... but mayby there is a method in this chaos, showing Tove's life that was ordered in its own chaotic way, at least that is the impression one gets after reading this book. Nonetheless worth reading ;)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    There is so much more to Tove Jansson than the moomins . She was a talented writer and artist. It's wonderful that more of her work is being translated so a wider audience can appreciate it. I think she lead a remarkable life and this book gives a greater insight into it. A worthwhile read for anyone interested in her life and works. There is so much more to Tove Jansson than the moomins . She was a talented writer and artist. It's wonderful that more of her work is being translated so a wider audience can appreciate it. I think she lead a remarkable life and this book gives a greater insight into it. A worthwhile read for anyone interested in her life and works.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Clarke

    I really wanted to love this exhaustive and slightly exhausting examination of the life and works of Jansson. It's certainly going to send me back to both Moomin and non-Moomin works with renewed interest and appreciation but it does feel like hard going at times. Perhaps it's the translation? I really wanted to love this exhaustive and slightly exhausting examination of the life and works of Jansson. It's certainly going to send me back to both Moomin and non-Moomin works with renewed interest and appreciation but it does feel like hard going at times. Perhaps it's the translation?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andy Bark

    An interesting and insightful book. I particularly enjoyed the massive amount of information on Moomintroll.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Too much about endless Moomin editions but an interesting read.

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