An atmospheric novel about Tove Jansson’s last three days on the island of Klovharu.
An island, the sea, a mist-grey and rush-yellow autumn. When a young woman meets the aging artist, big themes emerge: artistry, creativity, abandonment, aging, friendship, and mother-daughter relationship.
Maria, a young eco-activist, writes a letter to Tove Jansson and ends up on the island of Klovharu where the 77-year-old artist lives. Jansson has just published a new collection of short stories and prepares to wave goodbye to the rugged island of almost 30 happy summers. When Maria meets Tove, a world lived for art opens up to her: rebellion, solace, adventure, mischievous laughter. It would have been impossible to be both a good artist and a good wife, Tove says.
The Autumn Book covers several decades, from the 1940s to the 1990s, and, in Venho’s inimitable language, depicts the consequences of the choices we make.
Johanna Venho is an award-winning poet and a novelist. Venho’s poems and children’s books have been published in a number of languages; e.g. in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Slovakian. Her first novel of biofiction, The First Lady, is a story about Sylvi Kekkonen, who finds herself and her voice as a writer and hopes that after living one life, there’ll still be time to start another. The First Lady was nominated for the Finlandia Prize in 2019 and published in Estonian in 2021.
Sample English Translation, 64pp
‘Venho renders the individual linguistic registers of her subjects and the prevailing views of the times with breathtaking accuracy.’
‘For she has an amazing ability, even for a writer, to transform herself into her protagonists, to adopt personal registers of language and perspectives of different eras in such a way that the reader really feels as if they are inside their heads – as long as they remember all the time that they are reading a novel.’ – Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Finland
‘If a person has a talent to dive into the worlds of fairytales and stories, they can survive anything. Johanna Venho proves this in The Autumn Book.’ – Turun Sanomat newspaper, Finland
‘The Autumn Book is an incredibly clear and identifiable portrayal of letting go and hope; of mothers and daughters, idols and fans, and how the best stories that are woven together come back to the beginning. – ET Magazine, Finland
‘I am a big fan of Tove Jansson. The Autumn Book tells of Tove’s last days on Klovharu Island. It aspires to convey melancholy, an atmosphere of departure and farewell, and is a wonderful reflection on artistry. Johanna Venho is also a poet, and one can tell; the language is beautiful and meticulous. – Krista Kosonen, Me Naiset magazine, Finland
‘Johanna Venho has a nice way of going into the world of someone who is already gone and bringing it to the reader in such a pleasing way that it’s as if you’ve been there yourself – as happens in The Autumn Book, which takes you into Tove Jansson’s life and into her world.’ – Kirjavinkit.fi blog, Finland
‘Venho has perfectly captured Tove’s mind in this book of biofiction. This is a book about the art of living: nature, love, renunciation, memories and remembering, family relationships, self-reliance, the artist’s life choices – desire and freedom, without one there is no other. This is a book that encourages you to indulge, to feel and to experience.’ – Kodin kuvalehti magazine, Finland
‘Johanna Venho, who started out as a poet, slips along like a mahogany boat on the waves. Although the pages of the book are occasionally wistful, the main thing that remains is the extraordinary courage to live a life that looks like herself, without fear of adversity.’ – Meillä kotona magazine, Finland
‘The Autumn Book is a wistfully beautiful work about finding- and giving up one’s own path. It’s an intimate glimpse into the artist’s innermost being and at the same time touches on universally-identifiable themes.’ – Kirjaluotsi blog, Finland
‘The Autumn Book is wistful: we all must contemplate giving up, in matters both small and large. Melancholy still yields room for love and hope in the book – just as Tove, when she leaves Klovharu, equips it for those who have yet to come to the island.’ – Tuijata blog, Finland
‘Beautiful and vivid.’ – Kirsi’s Book Club, Finland
‘An enchanting portrait of an artist one is more than happy to indulge in.’ – Weekendavisen, Denmark
‘An atmospheric story where you dream away to windswept islands in the company of a nuanced cast of characters.’ 5 out of 6 stars – Ugebladet Søndag, Denmark