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2. Best bargain.

I’m not a book collector, and I rarely try to find bargains, but I have one book I feel was a super bargain.

I’m a big fan of Tove Jansson, A Swedish Finnish author, and illustrator.

She’s most famous for her Moomin books, which encompass novels, picture books and a comic. She also illustrated other people’s work, and her no-nonsense illustrations in Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland played a large part in why I love the book so much.

But back to the Moomins. If they are unfamiliar to you they are a family of Moomintrolls, living in a valley. The first book is set in a pure fantasy country, but pretty soon the books are set in clearly set in Finland and the fantastical surroundings disappear. Apart from the Moomins, there is a large cast of extended family and friends. They mostly have rather set characters; Moomin is a dreamer, the Fillyjonk?? Likes to clean and keep things orderly, Hemulens like to collect things, and so one, but despite that Jansson gives them increasing complexity.

One can say that the whole series is Moomin coming of age. In the first book he is wholly independent of his mother, in the last, the Moomins feature, he is clearly soon an adult. And though the category wasn’t around when Jansson wrote her books, the two last books are definitely YA novels. I love them all, but as an adult, I am most drawn to the last book MOOMIN, where a cast of characters, most of them known from other books, returns to Moominvalley. All, apart from Mymbles who just want to visit her sister, come sin chance of a dream. The dream of a place where summer is perpetual, where the Moomin family provides security and friendship. The dream of becoming someone other than they are. What they find is a deserted house in a valley in full autumn. It’s a lovely story about finding yourself. I highly recommend the whole series, though I don’t think you should start with Comet in Moominland and not the very first book The Moomins and The Great Flood. The latter isn’t really a good book, even if it has some good scenes, and could be rather off-putting. I’d read it last as completion of not at all.

But back to my bargain. Jansson’s first Moomin books were later re-written, some, like Comet in Moominland extensively. In my early twenties, I hunted through old books store to complete my Jansson collection, looking for old copies. And one day I found The Invisible Child, which isn't’ re-written, but which I didn’t have a copy off, so I bought it. I don’t remember the exact price, but it was certainly inexpensive, and I was a University student at the time. Turns out it was the Swedish first edition, and, to my pleased surprise, it had been autographed by Tove Jansson. Something I think went unnoticed by the book store, otherwise, I’m sure it would have been more expensive.

This is what my copy looks like.

And apparently, you can buy it for £250 now.

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