Book Review: Notes From An Island

The Travelling Bookbinder: Book Review: Notes From An Island: Tove Jansson & Tuulikki Pietila: Sort Of Books. Pictured on the Isle of Iona

This book review of Notes From An Island comes to you…from an island off the West Coast of Scotland! If you were inspired by Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book, in which a grandmother and granddaughter share adventures in microcosm, this part-memoir/part-logbook/part-sketchbook is likely to chime with an islophile.

‘There are many words for island – isle, skerry, holm, reef, atoll, key…’ writes Jansson early on in these charming pages, and so begins a description of the twenty-six summers spent on Klovharun, complemented by the watercolours and aquatints of her partner Tuulikki Pietila, and the sparse notes of a maverick seaman builder.

It is an insight into how language (visual, precise & practical) evokes an experience of a particular time and place.

As many who have retreated to islands know, they can provide solitude, context and reflection – an ideal combination for creating new thoughts, art and writing.

Eventually though, the pleasures and trials of living on a rock in the ocean are overcome by fearful anxiety. Tove and Tooti choose to relinquish their summer residence before departure is forced on them. A few years later, the observations, sketches and diary entries became Notes From An Island. First published in Swedish in 1996, the handsome English edition is out now.

Notes From An Island, by Tove Jansson & Tuulikki Pietila, is published by Sort Of Books.

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