Video: Sophia Jansson about Tove Jansson’s the Summer Book
In this video, Sophia Jansson talks about The Summer Book, the classic written by her aunt Tove Jansson. Sophia Jansson was an inspiration for one of the protagonists in the book, the little girl Sophia, who nurtures a special friendship with her grandmother on a summer island.
The Summer Book is one of Sophia Jansson’s favourite works of all the titles by her aunt, Tove Jansson. Now she has written a personal afterword for the 50th-anniversary edition of the novel published by Sort of Books.
In the video below, Sophia Jansson discusses The Summer Book and the new anniversary edition further.
In the afterword for the new edition, Sophia Jansson reflects upon how she feels about the friendship between the grandmother and the girl described in the book. She also discusses her own memories of summers on an island, now that she has recently become a grandmother herself.
“When I was a young child on the summer island – especially in the years I remember most, those after my mother died – my father, Tove and Ham would include me in all their activities. They did this by simply making room for me. I was never made to feel in the way or that my concerns or interests were less important, only different. We were a group with no hierarchy. Ham had a natural talent for play, which she used to mask a constant watchfulness and care. I hope that I will be able to replicate this and allow my granddaughter to feel that she has the same right to be herself and belong on the island.”
Sophia Jansson also reflects on how life and fiction are intertwined, and what elements in The Summer Book feel particularly special to her.
“Because my name is Sophia, and my grandmother Ham, people often ask me if I am Sophia, the child in The Summer Book. I answer evasively, ‘No and yes’. The book is a novel, I remind them, a work of fiction. Ideas and descriptions might be drawn from life, but they are distilled through the imagination of Tove. Perhaps I point this out to protect myself, rather than reveal how private and real the book feels to me. Tove herself, when asked the same question, simply answered that one third of the book was based on her niece, one-third on her own childhood and one third was made up. She refused to go into detail about any of her stories, preferring to let readers make up their own minds about them. And yet, as with all classic books, the characters and the predicaments of The Summer Book ring with truth.”