Elizabeth von Arnim · Tove Jansson

A short comparison of two short books

People who live on islands are always letting their eyes glide along the horizon. They see the lines and curves of the familiar skerries, and the channel markers that have always stood in the same spots, and they are strenghtened in their calm awareness that the view is clear and everything is in its place.

The Neighbor, in The Summer Book. Tove Jansson

This is true for people who live anywhere where they can observe and gaze at the horizon unobstructed, I believe… Whenever I’m sitting on the balcony, with a wide view over the distant mountain tops and not so far away hills, I feel absolute contentment. Those are the moments, minutes, sometimes even hours, when I need nothing else; not even a book. The allure of the horizon… Surely there must be a study of some kind, an article on the subject, a sentence or a paragraph in literature… I would definitely be interested in reading it.


In the course of the past six weeks, I’ve managed to read two whole books: Von Arnim’s Enchanted April and Jansson’s The Summer Book. Similar in their basic premise (a group of people away on a holiday/ away during the summer season) and their rhythm and atmosphere (slow, calm, serene) these are very different narratives.

comparison (1)

Enchanted April was a delight of its kind, and I will surely get to it again someday, but every time I finish reading a book as good as The Summer Book the impulse to immediately start rereading it arises. I begin to think I hadn’t read it well, to feel I hadn’t given it the attention it deserved. In a way, I have nothing against this feeling – it lets me know, for certain, that the second (third, …) reading will be if not more than as rewarding as the first.