What I’m Reading Neil Johnstone



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As a reader I like to have several books on the go at any one time. At the moment I’m reading Nick Bollinger’s Jumping Sundays, a fascinating and really entertaining insight into the rise and fall of the counterculture in Aotearoa New Zealand. I’m also reading Miracle by Jennifer Lane, a crime thriller that has a wicked sense of humour and totally engaging characters that comes highly recommended too. However, the book I’ve just finished is Notes From An Island by Tove Jansson. Now, for full disclosure I’m a Tove Jansson buff. Most people will be aware of her work through her Moomins books, but her adult novels are just as wonderful and are only now reaching the wider audience they deserve. She is one of those writers who, in all her work, gently but profoundly touches some of the most essential and subtle aspects of our humanity in just a line or two, without seemingly trying; the writer’s equivalent of catching gossamer on a summer breeze. Notes From An Island is one such book. It is autobiographical, very short (96 pages) and covers her days on the tiny remote island of Klovharun, with her partner and fellow artist Tuulikki Pietila, where they wrote, painted and lived. It’s a gentle, exquisitely observed and occasionally profound insight into life and the passing of time. The interaction between Tove and Tuulikki and the beautiful, raw and rugged nature that surrounds them show two people intimately connected with each other. The book is also resplendent with images Tuulikki Pietila created on the island at the time. The book is a small treasure and a perfect introduction to Tove’s work or for aficionados like myself.