My journey through the glorious Moominland continues apace, and I’ve reached book no. 4, “The Exploits of Moominpappa”. The story apparently has a bit of a chequered past, at least according to Wikipedia: The Exploits of Moominpappa, first published in 1950 and then considerably revised in 1968 under the title Moominpappa’s Memoirs, is the fourth book in the Moomin series by Tove Jansson. The story found in this book is mentioned in the previous Moomin books, as Moominpappa writes his memoirs in those stories. Unlike Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll, both versions of the novel were translated into English.

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My version is the current Puffin, so goodness which I’ve got! However, not to worry – it’s still going to be an engaging tale!

As Wikipedia says, Moominpappa has been writing his memoirs for several books, and in fact the first book opened with him being lost and Moominmamma’s search for him, so it’s intriguing to hear the story of his life. The story is told to Moomintroll, Sniff and Snufkin and turns out to feature the two latter character’s fathers (which is quite strange, because it was Moomintroll who met Sniff and Snufkin and brought them home, and there was never any mention of their fathers before!)

Moominpappa came from an orphanage, ran away to find his fortune and had a number of adventures with new friends Hodgkin, the Joxter and the Muddler. They sail away on a houseboat, rescue a bossy Hemulen, have a run-in with some Niblings, and find a new land where the Mymble family live. After setting up home on an island and befriending the resident ghost, they go on to have further adventures under the sea. And then we get to the part where Moominpappa and Moominmamma meet – and the book stops!

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Once again, Jansson’s storytelling is wonderful and the illustrations are just lovely! However, if I’m honest, this is probably the Moomin book I’ve enjoyed the least (and that’s not to mean I didn’t enjoy it at all) – possibly because it’s told from a different voice, or possibly because it just introduces so many different settings and characters without any warning. It kind of has the feel of retrospective writing, bringing in characters and plot that weren’t there earlier, and so it sits less comfortably with what I’ve read so far than I expected.

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Nevertheless, the Moomin world is always a magical one – the creatures are original and unexpected, the adventures quite challenging at times and of course the drawings are magical. Jansson can convey so much with just line illustrations, bringing alive the wonderful little characters who populate her books. The next book in the series is “Moominsummer Madness”, which will no doubt appear on Mount TBR very soon!

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