Sculptor’s Daughter: A Childhood Memoir translated by Kingsley Hart, introduced by Ali Smith (Sort Of Books)
Review by Ruth Brassington
I haven’t been to Finland, but my grandfather was born there to a Finnish father and a Swedish mother, the same mix as Tove Jansson. I’d heard stories of long dark indoor winters and going to school on skis but I hadn’t heard of Moomintrolls (the little white troll of Jansson’s Moomin books). Not surprising, as my grandfather was born in 1870 whereas Jansson was born in 1914.
A century after Jansson’s birth, this now-translated memoir will bring her life after death by increasing the readership of her adult writings. My joyful introduction to Jansson’s writing was The Summer Book, published in 1972. Sculptor’s Daughter, too, gets across the essence of a child’s day-to-day life with few companions. The child Tove’s naïve voice seems charged with ancient wisdom and understanding, showing an early intrigue with words in the same way as did Janet Frame: “Inexorable. Ornamentation. Profile. Catastrophic. Electrical. District Nurse. They get bigger and bigger if you say them over and over again. You whisper and whisper and let the word grow until nothing exists except the word”.
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