6) The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
I have been a fan of Tove Jansson’s Moomin books for as long as I can remember being able to read, an enthusiasm which once contributed to a minor diplomatic embarrassment. This, however, is one of her novels for adults. Though to say it’s a novel is perhaps stretching it a bit; it’s more a series of vignettes about the relationship between Sophia, whose age is never made clear but is I guess between seven and eleven, and her grandmother, living on one of the islands in the Gulf of Finland with Sophia’s father (her mother is dead). The island and its neighbourhood are described with fascinating accuracy; so too are Sophia and her grandmother – no romanticised, misty-eyed view here of either childhood or old age. A beautiful book.