It was the national book lovers day yesterday. Well it was in the United States. I didn’t know this till I saw a range of posts on Instagram so I thought I’d join the party – a day late I know but hey. It just happens to coincide with my finishing one book and starting another. Both are complete contrast to each other.
I have just finished The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson. This is a just a delight. I had been intending to read this for a few years and happened upon a copy in Foyles in Birmingham New Street Station. Tove Jansson is probably more widely known as the author of the Moomin books. She lived in Helsinki but spent most summers on an island in the gulf of Finland with her partner. The book follows the adventures, love and disagreements of an elderly woman and her six year old granddaughter, also spending the summer on an otherwise uninhabited island in the Gulf of Finland. The girl’s father, and his bathrobe make occasional appearences but mostly it is the discourse between the the old woman and the child. It is not a piece of whimsy though, adventures include trespass into a nearby island’s newly built house, discussions on death, the feelings of angle worms and the desolation of not being invited to a party on a boat full of ‘crooks’.
I have just started Mythos by Stephen Fry. This is a rollicking re-telling of a selection of ancient greek myths of creation and the birth and the adventures and misadventures of the various gods. I’m only a fraction of the way through but it certainly bears the distinctive mark of all his work. It is entertaining and informative with lots of little footnotes pointing out the derivation of various english words from their Greek origins. From the Earth mother Gaia and her unpleasant son, Kronos we learn that they conspire to reduce the power of her husband, Ouranos. Kronos, efficiently castrates his father and throws the errm – bits, far way into the sea near Cyprus. It is from the horrors of this deed, from a whirl of surf and blood and seed that a thing emerges. ‘From the foam’ appears Beauty itself in the form of Aphrodite. Good stuff eh?