Tove Jansson’s much-loved Moomins hibernate all winter but the characters in A Winter Book, a collection of the Finnish polymath’s selected stories, are very much awake. None more so than the narrator of ‘The Iceberg’, a little girl whose family has just moved to the country, who creeps out of their house in the dark of the night to spy on her iceberg, with its oval-shaped, girl-sized grotto on one side. The iceberg had floated into the bay, all green and white and sparkling, and very early for the time of year. In just four pages, Jansson weaves a magical, miniature tale of adventure and hope and the harsh realities of life. Somehow, especially now, I feel we are all that little girl, standing on the edge of the shore, berating herself for not being brave enough to jump aboard and sail away on a floating island.
First published in Bildhuggarens dotter (Sculptor’s Daughter), 1968. Republished in The Winter Book, Sort of Books, 2006
Chosen by Susie Mesure. Susie is a freelance journalist. She specialises in not specialising in anything at all. That, and reading quite a lot considering she should probably be doing something else. She interviews authors and writes features and columns for newspapers including the i paper, the FT, and most of the others. One day she might write a book.