Saturday, March 3, 2012

The True Deceiver

Title:  The True Deceiver
Author:  Tove Jansson
Publisher:  New York Review of Books  2009
                  Originally published in Swedish  1982
Pages:  181
Source:  Purchased

Synopsis from back of book
"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."

Not only do I love the main characters' names (Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin), but I was totally engaged throughout the story!  It is exquisite in its simplicity, yet addresses social mores and assumptions with depth.  I was trying to predict which character, Katri or Anna, would have the most profound effect on the other throughout the entire book.  This story is very well done...I definitely recommend!

 Favorite Quotes:
"She dreamed that she carried the unread letters out onto the ice, far out to the dark pile of abandoned but once cherished possessions, now shoved ruthlessly into a heap, and there she dumped them--the pleas of unknown correspondents, their confidences, their clever suggestions.  She just threw them, and they flew away in a blizzard of letter paper, an endless, boundless postal storm, flew up to heaven in a single great reproach..."

"The truth needs to be hammered in with iron spikes, but no one can drive nails into a mattress!"

"Anna had given the dog a name because nameless things have a tendency to grow.  She stripped the animal of his menace by calling him Teddy."


  1. This is my first time hearing of this book- but from your review it sounds like a must read. I love the way you described the book and the characters sound interesting (great names). Thanks for sharing!


  2. Hope you enjoy it! It amazes me how some authors can take one small aspect of life and write about it incredibly well. Thank goodness for people who have that talent :-)