Fair Play

Tove Jansson

Fiction novella 1982 | 100 pages


I can’t seem to remember how Fair Play made it on to my reading list.  Did you recommend it?  It is sweet book.  No, more than sweet.  It's about two women in a very long-term relationship who are completely honest with each other, seem to be fully authentic.  Whatever needs to be said, wants to be said, completes an urge to be said, is said.  And yet, always, love shines through and  the relationship remains kind.  Mari doesn't like a B-Western movie, and makes a big fuss over it; leaves the room. But later, when Jonna comes to bed after the movie, Mari asks if they might watch it again sometime. Such honor and respect, about movies, about life, about their art. They are both artists; Mari writes, Jonna makes films. They live at opposite ends of a large apartment building near a harbor, and between their studios lay the attic.

There are not many really good books that portray functional relationships.  We are attracted as readers to angst, problems, resolutions, dilemmas.  Fair Play, Tove Jansson’s 1982 semi-autobiographic portrait of a partnership, is an exception.  (Jansson is a famous writer of children's books about The Moomins.  "...the central characters in a series of novels, short stories, and a comic strip by Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson ... a family of white, round fairy-tale characters with large snouts that make them resemble the hippopotamus."  Wikipedia)

I love the closing sentence of the novella.  I went back and reread it:  "She felt something close to exhilaration, of a kind that people can permit themselves when they are blessed with love."  I do not know why this book ended up on the shelf at the library, under my name.  I do not recall reserving it.  I don't have any context for it.  And yet, here it is.  It portrays what a healthy loving committed relationship sounds like, looks like, and above all, feels like. Maybe it was given to me as a reminder.  Enjoy!

March 2023