The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson: Review

deceiverI can’t really “review” The True Deceiver. What is it about? What does it mean? The introduction calls The True Deceiver Jansson’s “most subtle works”. I’d agree with that. It sneaks up on you. I’m sure it’s stuffed with symbolism that went right over my head.

To sum up the plot (if there is one), Katri decides to ingratiate herself into the life of a reclusive artist living in her village. She can’t do it with kindness. Katri isn’t known for kind. She’s a cold, cunning, yet terrifyingly honest young woman. Anna Amelin, the artist, is an older lady who draws flowery rabbits for children’s books. Her only contact with the village is through the deliveries of the only grocery store. Katri, replaces the delivery service with herself and her brother, Mats. Slowly, Katri becomes a part of Anna’s life, never completely liked but depended upon.

Anna and Katri are polar opposites. Katri, cynical and suspicious; Anna, childlike and trusting. They end up influencing each other, for better or worse. Mats is in the middle, though he’s unaware of it. Katri is overprotective of her younger brother, while Anna relates to his love of reading and his innocence. This causes friction between the two women.

In the end, the women have changed through their interactions with each other. Is this a positive or a negative? I’m not sure.

The writing is quite simple but deceivingly so. It feels as if every word is a part of a puzzle that the reader has to put together. I know I missed a lot. I will have to read it at least a couple more times. It’s very different from The Summer Book, which I loved. I don’t know how to feel about The True Deceiver. I definitely respect the book and Jansson, but it left me feeling confused.


  1. I loved seeing Tove Jansson in slightly darker territory, and this might be my favourite of her books - but then, she can't put a foot wrong as far as I'm concerned :)

  2. If you're not sure there's a plot this may not be for me.


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