Bow Island – Bo Carpelan

IMG0001This book seems fairly obscure, so much so that I couldn’t find many decently sized pictures on the web. So here’s a photo of me in bed holding the book…

Translated from the Swedish, this was a real find and at the 20p cost, I consider it to be one of the very best bargains of my bibliophilic career to date and will take some beating.

Most of us wish to leave the overcrowded towns and cities,  this book indulges that want, that need. From the off it’s a picturesque scene of nature, a solitary place where the only sounds are nature and the odd human voice, it’s almost as modern a version as being primal as we can get to in this day and age.

Johan is our young narrator who goes on holiday with his parents, meets some new friends, has adventures, learns about nature, life and himself.  It is Marvin though who is the key character in the book, he’s a 19 year old with the mind of a much younger child.  Trusting, innocent, vulnerable and easily frightened, much like the wildlife he loves.

If Marvin’s character would have been overplayed or to unrealistic then the whole book would have lost a significant amount of charm.  His gentle nature and naivety though is perfectly pitched, although he is different he is more in tune with nature and leads the better life for that.

compared to, say Enid Blyton, whose books also show a deep love of nature but not much in the way of character development, this book has a more sophisticated and emotionally involving approach, these days it would be required reading for anyone wishing to highlight the destruction of nature but since this in written 1971 it’s charms have been somewhat lost to time.

At 158 pages this is a short book but all the same is a book that will capture the heart of all ages and will be one of those books I for one will be rereading again come next summer, with its hauntingly beautiful descriptions of nature and vaguely melancholy but ultimately uplifting air, I demand you all go and seek a copy.

I was genuinely gutted to have finished it, even though I made every effort to savour each page.  A book that moves and resonates with everyone can be a rare thing and one that also has a good reminder that modern life is a bit rubbish and we should all slow down fills all my criteria for a good book/  I think a reprint is due as it beats most Children’s books hands down.

31 Replies to “Bow Island – Bo Carpelan”

    1. I had no idea, I will check it out….it seems like another rare book but I shall look out for it, I would love to indulge my happy side in that magical world again, thanks for drawing my attention to it!


  1. Darling boy, my first thought after reading your review was just with the word rubbish and how British the word truly sounds. I smile when I read your blog, especially when I come across your British tone. We Americans think of the British as so proper, but maybe that’s just rubbish. I think you’re awesome!
    I love that feeling of not wanting a book to end, as if we can go on and live forever lost in a good way inside a life vicariously shadowing the main character.


    1. I’m not sure how you imagine my voice, it’s not like the movies…unless it’s about one from the north, but I’m not from Yorkshire or anything. I think I shocked some Americans with my less than posh voice, over in the far North West, lol.

      It is a wonderful feeling to start reading a book and just knowing that it’s going to be amazing is a great feeling…so many fond memories not only of the book adventures but also my surroundings in my snap shot memory.


      1. I imagine it quite like that of Prince William! LOL. Don’t all British men sound like he does? hehe Or how about Andy Murray (yes, I know he’s a Scot, but close enough!)?
        Do you have a photographic memory? Or just imagine your surroundings being entranced within the books?


        1. For such a small island you would be perhaps be surprised at how diverse we all sound…the two cities north and south of me (Sheffield 24 miles and Nottingham 14 miles) have totally different accents to each other and we in the middle have our own unique accent. The Scottish accent is poles apart from me as is Prince William…I can’t think of anyone famous who has an accent resembling mine now you mention it.

          It’s not so much a photographic memory as much as I read in the same places mostly so can recall the time of year by people and stuff. I lead a fairly habitual life in my reading, lol.


          1. I guess all the accents I have heard were of famous people, even Hugh Grant comes to mind. Frankly, they’ve all sounded the same. I would be surprised if I could really tell the difference between one form of British accent or another.
            How far away is London from you?

            I see what you mean there. I have read certain books at books stores and recall the experience right to the time of year and what the people around me were wearing.


            1. I’m about 140 miles away from London…I thought you would be thinking along the lines of Hugh Grant…he seems to have the voice you guys all like to think we have…I am sure soon you will hear my voice anyways!


  2. The short read of only 158 pages is so tempting on top of your description.
    Ooooohhhhhh….One day…one day – I’m going to find some spare time & read a book – uninterrupted 🙂


    1. You’ll read this one in one sitting my friend. I look forward to you writing about your spare time…and good luck finding it!


  3. Ah…but you do all ways entice me to add each book you review (well except the fifth HP and Dan Brown of course haha) to my ever growing TBR list. My favorite line was this ~

    “with its hauntingly beautiful descriptions of nature and vaguely melancholy but ultimately uplifting air, I demand you all go and seek a copy.”

    Since you so respectfully demanded…I shall indeed acquiesce dearest sir and find myself said copy of this enchanting book….how could I not with your charm and witty brilliance shining through all your words! xxxxx


    1. No need to add it to your list, my dear for I shall bring it over…that and as many as I can carry for you..only the best books of course! I do like to mix it up with a few negative reviews sometimes just to keep people guessing…praising books is good but trashing a book is also fun! I like to reserve all the best lines for you! xxxxx


    1. I’m not one for rereading usually, especially not after so short a time but this one was just so involving and intimate.


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