The True Deceiver, by Tove Jansson
In elementary school, a friend and I would routinely sneak away during recess to read Tove Jansson’s Moomin tales in our school’s library. We were completely taken with the hippo-like Moomintrolls, their friends and neighbors, and their magical adventures. The True Deceiver is the first of Jansson’s novels for adults that I’ve read. It is written with the same simplicity and majesty as her Moomin stories, and inspired a similar sense of atmosphere and wonder as I read.
Katri Kling and her “simple” brother Mats are outcasts in their small, snow-pummelled Scandinavian village. Katri is uncommonly direct at the expense of politeness and is socially intimidating. She inserts herself into the life of Anna Aemelin, an elderly children’s book illustrator who is polite at the expense of honesty. As Katri works toward an unstated goal by establishing herself in Anna’s life and the ice and snow around them begins to melt, the lies and hypocracies embodied by both women are slowly exposed.
The story seems a simple tale of deception, but it also deals with the complex themes of creativity, artistic representation vs. reality, and our general attitudes toward dealing with others in such a way that lends a sort of validating weight to this small book. Though I was ultimately less enchanted than I had hoped to be (hey, I had high expectations) and craved a little more resolution in the end, it was nice nonetheless to immerse myself again in Tove Jansson’s storytelling.
I am curious about Tove Jansson’s other books for adults…has anyone read any of them?