I read this book in Swedish, which is also the original language of the book, and like my blog title says, the title of the book is then Farlig midsommar, which means dangerous midsummer. I’m telling you this because this means that I can easily count this to the “What’s in a name“-challenge for a category of a book with a party or celebration in the title, as that is definitely something that midsummer is in Finland and they do celebrate it in the book too. I only noticed I could use this for the challenge right after I finished the book, so that was sort of a bonus for reading it. I just picked it up as I was actually looking for some of Roald Dahl’s books in the library for going nostalgic and seeing how I like those books now, which I loved in my childhood. But then moomin caught my eye too and out of two or three I picked this up as I remember this story as one of my favourites.
I remember this better from TV than actually reading it, and I’m not sure if I ever completely read any of the moomin books as a child (except the picture books), but I know I’ve read at least part of this and the November one. That one I think is a bit of a slow one and quite different and was maybe never part of the TV series stories. I always liked this story anyhow and it’s one that has stayed in my mind best of the moomin stories. As I remember it, the TV adaptation is pretty accurate, but when reading you get more of those funny little quirks there are in this.
I did enjoy this a lot and I was really happy I picked it up right now. So like I said, the moomins are dear to me since childhood, so that might be one reason that this felt like such a great feel good book and that I enjoyed it so much. It was nice and comforting to read while having a cold. At some point I also got the feeling that this is really a part of my culture and telling something about something that is familiar to me. It’s a fantasy world, at least partly, and we don’t have volcanoes over here, but still in some ways the author’s origins from Finland come through in the writing. There’s just some feeling from her descriptions of summer evenings and such. If you didn’t know, Tove Jansson was a Swedish-speaking Finnish author and artist. She started more with visual arts and I think moomin was first a comic strip in a newspaper or magazine before she started writing the books. So moomin both as words and pictures are her creations.
The story in this books is about a great flood that happens close to midsummer. The Moomin-family and some of their friends, who are at their house at the time, get surrounded by water. The water just keeps rising, so after they have had breakfast, which they’ve dived for from the kitchen, they save themselves and the best furniture to a house that’s floating by, which turns out to be a theatre. Because of some accidents part of them get separated later on and have some adventures of their own away from the theatre, and in the end everybody of course find each other again. I don’t think I’m spoiling it by telling you that.
Apart from my nostalgic feelings and feelings about places, it really is a nice book in many other ways too. I love the characters and the way they react to things. There’s also a nice theme of everyone finding something that suits them in some way in the end. You might not like them at first, but then you find out that something at least suits them and the characters just have different ways of seeing things and different principles guiding them. Many things just make me chuckle at how they react. They are mostly quite one-sided and even caricature like, but that just makes it more fun how they each react to things. Like moominmamma is just worried about her laundry and furniture and acts happy even when she’s supposed to be sad in the play, and it’s just fun how they all (or most of them) take everything quite calmly as it comes although they might show some initial fear or surprise.
Of the characters, who cannot love Little My! She is definitely my favourite and often it’s her who keeps doing something weird in some corner (or pocket) while everybody else goes about doing ordinary things. I didn’t really remember her sister that well, but I quite like her too and she seems to have almost as much spirit as My.
I have the whole set of the moomin books somewhere at my parents’ house (which, yes, I did never read completely), a boxed set in fact, and now I really feel like looking them up sometime soon and reading them all through. Like I’ve said before I haven’t read them all before, although I’m familiar with most of the stories, so I can’t really confidently say which one is the best, but if you’re looking into starting reading the books, this one is a good contender. It’s not the first of them, but it doesn’t really matter and you really get to know the characters and the world quite well here too. The very first book doesn’t seem to be quite as well recommended and I don’t think it’s even in my set. That’s The Moomins and the Great Flood/Småtrollen och den stora översvämmningen And that’s quite a different flood from the one in this book. Finn Family Moomintroll/Trollkarlens hatt (what a strange title translation by the way) and Moominland Midwinter/Trollvinter are a couple of others I remember the stories of and remember I enjoyed as a kid in whatever ways I came across them. Also to round off my moomin recommendations, just don’t forget the lovely picture books Who Will Comfort Toffle?/Vem ska trösta Knyttet? and The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My/Hur gick det sen? These are big favourites in Finland and picture book classics. I remember loving at least Hur gick det sen? though I’m not sure if that was also because of the story and pictures or mainly because each page has a hole that fits into the illustration, through which the characters supposedly pass to the next pages. And of course there are the comics too, though I’m not that familiar with them.
I posted a picture of a Moomin mug I have above. I have another one too, which is also over at my parents’, and that one is with only Little My I think. There is a lot of Moomin stuff around, but especially of the mugs, which many people collect too, because there is often one new each year and sometimes some seasonal ones. I’m mentioning this, because I thought it was funny how I actually remembered some of the illustrations from the book better from the mugs than anything else. Like a picture of My that’s on the other mug I have is from this book and I remembered especially another one of Mymble’s daughter (My’s sister) from another mug.