Moominvalley in November, by Tove Jansson

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Äckligt, viskade Filifjonkan och skakade sin trasa. Hon lyfte upp fatet och klev ut genom fönstret för att tvätta utsidan. “Horrid”, whispered Fillyjonk, and shook out her duster. She lifted up the bowl and climbed through the window to wash it from the outside.

The last of the Moomin books, this barely has the Moomins in it; instead six characters – the established Snufkin and Mymble, the Hemulen and Fillyjonk who may or may not be the same as earlier Hemulens and Fillyjonks, and the new characters Grandpa-Grumble and Toft, all congregate in the Moomins' empty house in November. I had not read this one when I was a child, and I think a child reading it would be a bit bemused by the absence of the central characters. Of course it's really about death and letting go; Jansson decided not to keep churning out Moomin stories but to write, in effect, about not writing any more. Each of the six protagonists has a little character arc; usually the smart reader can see pretty quickly what it is that they will be learning in the course of the short narrative. I must admit that I too missed the Moomin family, and I'm looking forward to returning to the other books of the series in due course. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book by a woman writer; next on that list is Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters.