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“A perfectly constructed book about truth and deceit, and deceiving through truth, it’s obvious why this book won the Best Translated Book Award in 2011. And it’s the perfect accompaniment to reading all of Jansson’s Moomin books.” —Publishers Weekly
" Her description is unhurried, accurate and vivid, an artist's vision... The sentences are beautiful in structure, movement and cadence. They have inevitable rightness. And this is a translation! Thomas Teal deserves to have his name on the title page with Jansson's: he has worked the true translator's miracle....the most beautiful and satisfying novel I have read this year. " —Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
"...a dark companion to her glowing The Summer Book. Here the setting is winter, and the almost Highsmithian subject concerns a woman who inveigles herself in the life of a famous, and rich, writer. Jansson's writing is, as always, understated yet acute and thrilling." — Los Angeles Times
"...Jansson crafts an unsentimental – often mischievous – novel of ideas that asks whether it is better to be kind than to be truthful, especially for an artist. Ali Smith’s excellent introduction expresses shock and delight that there is still fiction by Jansson untranslated into English. After reading this gem, who could disagree?" —Financial Times
"I loved this book...understated yet exciting, and with a tension that keeps you reading. I felt transported to that remote region of Sweden and when I finished it I read it all over again. The characters still haunt me." — Ruth Rendell
"Tove Janssen is a great, engaging talent — a serious, complex, occasionally macabre novelist as well as a major and versatile painter who has worked for fifty years in the artistic mainstream. In Scandinavia, she is regarded as a treasure. As we come better to understand her achievement, we honor her likewise" — The HornBook
"...as this narrative ticks forward, it becomes evident that a book of almost inscrutable intricacy is being built from so many simple, separate components gradually enmeshing. "
—Theodore McDermott, The Believer
Posted March 18, 2014
I've read and enjoyed Jansson's Moomin series for children, so I decided to give this one a try; I wasn't disappointed. The story is set in a small town in the dead of winter. Specifics aren't given about the exact time, nor the exact location... but that doesn't really matter. The plot slowly emerges, like blades of grass poking through snow. It's to the point, without indulgent prose. For that alone, I would recommend this book. It's well-written, compelling, and not "stuffy" to read.
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