The True Deceiver

The True Deceiver

Book - 2009
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A New York Review Books Original

Winner of the Best Translated Book Award

Deception--the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others--is the subject of this, Tove Jansson's most unnerving and unpredictable novel. Here Jansson takes a darker look at the subjects that animate the best of her work, from her sensitive tale of island life, The Summer Book , to her famous Moomin stories: solitude and community, art and life, love and hate.

Snow has been falling on the village all winter long. It covers windows and piles up in front of doors. The sun rises late and sets early, and even during the day there is little to do but trade tales. This year everybody's talking about Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin. Katri is a yellow-eyed outcast who lives with her simpleminded brother and a dog she refuses to name. She has no use for the white lies that smooth social intercourse, and she can see straight to the core of any problem. Anna, an elderly children's book illustrator, appears to be Katri's opposite: a respected member of the village, if an aloof one. Anna lives in a large empty house, venturing out in the spring to paint exquisitely detailed forest scenes. But Anna has something Katri wants, and to get it Katri will take control of Anna's life and livelihood. By the time spring arrives, the two women are caught in a conflict of ideals that threatens to strip them of their most cherished illusions.

Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, c2009.
ISBN: 9781590173299
Branch Call Number: JANSS
Characteristics: xvii, 181 p. ; 21 cm.


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Apr 22, 2018

"In you there's no, if you'll pardon my saying so, no trace of what people call politeness. . .And politeness can sometimes be almost a kind of deceit, can it not? Do you know what I mean?"
"Yes," said Katri. "I do."
I'd never heard of this book or author, but it was part of the New York Review of Books Classics series, which often published interesting stuff I've never heard of. Tove Jansson, A Finn who part of that country's Swedish minority, wrote and drew books for and comics for children, but later in life turned to novels. Going into this without knowing much is the best way, although if you've read any Scandinavian mysteries, you'll recognize some of the reticent characters and cool atmosphere. An excellent find.

LPL_EliH Feb 19, 2018

A perfectly calculated piece of storycraft, with dynamic and peculiar characters that unfold effortlessly through Jansson's prose. Open the book to anywhere, and the lines gush by like a faucet. I savored it, all the way to its cathartic and beautiful end.

Dec 24, 2014

Moody and evocative, but frustratingly thin. Jansson more or less sketches out a plot, and occasionally hints at its wider ramifications, but even at 181 pages the book feels light. An interesting accompaniment to her Summer Book, but not half as rich.

Jul 28, 2012

Set in Finland, this book reads like a fable. It is about deception and self-deception. It is quite powerful.

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