The True Deceiver, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (5 ratings)


In the deep winter snows of a Swedish hamlet, a strange young woman fakes a break-in at the house of an elderly artist in order to persuade her that she needs companionship.

But what does she hope to gain by doing this? And who ultimately is deceiving whom? In this portrayal of two women grappling with truth and lies, nothing can be taken for granted. By the time the snow thaws, both their lives will have changed irrevocably.


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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

How exciting to discover that one of my favorite children's book authors wrote more than the Moominland stories that I've loved for years! And even better to discover that her writing for adults is just as good as her children's tales.This is a beautiful book. The story - a young woman, Katri Kling, insinuates herself into the life of well-known children's book illustrator Anna Aemelin in order to benefit the younger brother she is responsible for - is told in a deceptively simple manner. Jansson's writing is as clean and stark as the snowy landscape in which the story is set, and the story's pace is as quiet and unurgent as life in this little town seems to be. But this is a story about deception - the lies that Katri and Anna tell each other to get what they want, and the lies they tell themselves about who they are. The characters and the story may seem outwardly calm, but the machinations and struggles going on underneath the surface fill the book with tension and an almost sinister feeling of suspense. This story and these characters will stay with me for a long time.(This book was translated from Swedish to English by Thomas Teal. Not being able to read the book in the original, I don't know how much of his voice was added, but I'm sure he must deserve some credit for the beautiful cadence and language of this book.)

Review by

This is the perfect winter read. Tove Jansson situates her story in an isolated coastal Swedish village, in the midst of winter. All is white, blue, snowy and freezing. It's a village of fishermen, boat builders, boredom and gossip. The village houses two eccentric outsiders: yellow-eyed Katri, a smart young woman, who doesn't seem to be interested in small talk or gossip and is always accompanied by a wolfish dog. And the sweet tempered - naive - illustrator of children's books, Anna, who lives on her own in a giant rabbit shaped house on the edge of town.The story concentrates on the relation between Katri and Anna, between the wolf and the rabbit. However, confronted by each other, the women find neither of them is pure rabbit or wolf.It's a smart, slow paced story, with well developed characters. In a way it is almost like a theatre play, that analyses the intricate relationship between the women and the gradual change of position. Besides, it's well written, its language is pure as an icy snowflake. Recommended.

Review by

1) On Some South African NovelistsYou praise the firm restraint with which they write -I'm with you there, of course:They use the snaffle and the curb all right,But where's the bloody horse?Roy Campbell2) What's all the fuss about?--I'm sure Katri and I would have got on just fine.3) If you like this kind of thing, surely Lars Gustafsson does it a lot better?4) Yes, this one passed me by completely!

Review by

It is hopeless trying to better the perceptive analysis of Ali Smith in her introduction to Tove Jansson’s intense psychological drama, written in a simple, matter of fact voice, that is played out in a dark wintry snowed-in claustrophobic hamlet. Ali Smith says that Jansson writes in a ‘lightness that proves deceptive, an ease of surface like […] ice’ over a hidden depth; deception, as she points out, works at many levels here. It is also a ‘novel about art’s place in the dark’ and of the artist’s responsibilities and again of deception in avoiding and fulfilling (!) these. The snow and ice, the frozen landscape, play a large part and as with spring the ice breaks, so have the set worlds of the two opposed protagonists, Katri and Anna.(XI-10) **** (If I don’t give it 5* it is not meant to be judgemental, it simply reflects personal taste)

Review by

I read this book quickly, not just because it's only 200 pages and published in a fairly large print on pages with nice wide margins - but because the writing and story were gripping and enveloping. The plot is concerned with Katri, a young woman with yellow eyes, who befriends an old woman who has illustrated many children's books with rabbits covered in flowers. Katri is known as an honest person, although she is also outspoken and not well liked. Jansson writes with crisp, clear prose and uses one sentence where other writers might use five. The characters are developed even though the reader is not allowed access to all aspects of their lives. Occasionally we get first person narration but mainly it's in the third. Jansson's writing is refreshing and challenging because it often deals with the less attractive sides of people's characters - there is little to like about Katri. I found this novel really engrossing and think it would benefit from a second or third read - despite its sparse style, there is so much in it that I think it would be even better the next time round.