I read a lot of books, but I’m not one for doing long reviews. You can use Amazon or Goodreads for that. On Jackdaw I occasionally make reference to various titles in passing, or perhaps devote just a couple of paragraphs to them. A little like my recent post: When In Manchester, Nog.
I have just read The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, about an elderly woman and her six year old granddaughter spending the summer together, along with the peripheral figure of the girl’s father, on a Finnish Island. It is only a short novel, you can read it in a couple of hours. The conversations between the two are quite funny, particularly the things that the young Sophia comes out with. The fact that Sophia in Greek means wisdom was not lost on me, incidental though it is.
At one point in the book, Verner, an old friend of Grandmother, comes out in a boat to see her, bringing the customary bottle of sherry with him. She has never before told him that she hates sherry, and now of course it is much too late, so far down the line. It later transpires that he doesn’t like it either-he values it only as the connection that joins together the memories of their friendship.
By way of euphemism, the subject of death comes up. She laments the fact that nobody will hold an intelligent conversation about it, they are either too young, too old, or don’t have the time. Written in 1972, perhaps even today it is still our last taboo.
Making a toast, Verner poetically says:
“To the final landscape of our old age, as summer fades. This is a fine moment. Silence settles around us, each of us wanders his own way, and yet we all meet by the sea in the peaceful sunset.”
Grandmother probably didn’t care much for that either. But I did.
Who wouldn’t want to reach their final days still blessed by friendship, slowly fading in a place of peace?
Although I wouldn’t appreciate the sherry either.
Perhaps in a trifle though, yes?