Moominvalley in November
by Tove Jansson
Published by Expressens Heffaklump, 1970
This is the ninth and final book in the Mumintrollen series of chapter books for children. It follows Moominpappa at Sea (although it was published five years later), and takes place at exactly the same time, albeit with no interaction betwixt the two plots. It does not directly involve the Moomins.
The Moomins (and Little My) have left on a sea journey, leaving their house empty; however, a series of pseudo-supernatural coincidences brings a series of old acquaintances to their house. Snufkin, about to leave for the winter, turns back to Moominvalley in search of a half-forgotten melody; Mymble visits to see her sister (Little My). Toft is an orphan who has been having dreams of the Moomin family, and Grandpa-Grumble is an old man who thinks he remembers Moominvalley from long ago. Fillyjonk and the Hemulen appear to be fairly random instances of the common species; they have met the Moomins in the past, but as far as I am aware they do not appear specifically in any previous books, although various Fillyjonks and Hemulen have appeared in many previous stories.
Mymble doesn't seem bothered by the crowd of strangers at all; Snufkin is a bit taken aback and rather wishes they weren't there. The new characters, though, are where the interest lies. Toft is in search of a mother, and dealing with bouts of anger and shyness; he makes little progress, but is patient. Fillyjonk and the Hemulen have become disenchanted with the traditional Fillyjonk and Hemulen lifestyles (fastidious and stand-offish and officious and overbearing, respectively), and are doing some soul-searching. Grandpa-Grumble is tried of being left out because he is old, and would like to fish. These newcomers all have idealized memories of the Moomin family, and are hoping that the Moomins can help them find themselves; none are happy to find the Moomins missing and the house full of disenchanting strangers.
And that, such as it is, is the plot. Many small arguments and breakdowns are held, much futzing about is engaged in, and, eventually, many of the characters make small steps towards finding themselves. It is well-written and often amusing, and at ~175 illustrated pages, a quick and easy read. I suspect that most children will not enjoy it; I would not have when I was younger.
Both Moominpappa at Sea and Moominvalley in November are odd, melancholy, and contemplative books, even in the context of the Moomins. These are also the last books in the series, written after Tove Jansson's mother had died; she reported that she was unable to find the happiness that had previously inspired the Mumintrollen books. However, I think is it fair to say that the book, and thus the series, has a happy ending, or at least, an ending that looks like it will become happy sometime in the future.