I distinctly recall being sorely disappointed in Muumipappa ja Meri as a kid.
What I thought would be another rollicking Moomin adventure – lighthouse, storms, shipwrecks – turned out almost anything but.
This book marks the wateshed of the series, from here on there would be lots of philosophy and introspection, and the summery action scenes would be faded out.
Muumipappa ja Meri fronts the usual suspects, but in strangely damaged roles. The four protagonists all degrade into their own worlds, on account of sense of duty, disappointment or loneliness, and as such the book covers the bleak reality of the family rapidly growing apart on the secluded island.
Even if the book itself is far from the delights of the preceding volumes, it’s an important book – it proves that everybody has to ultimately discover and face oneself, even if the process and results of doing so are uncertain, and possibly even unpleasant.
Upon re-reading, some thirty years later, I’m no longer disappointed in the novel, but impressed. The theme of self-discovery is subtly introduced, and then hammered home.