This NYRB classic is a sharp cold slap disguised in Jansson’s characteristic clear prose. In a small island village far north two women establish a mutually beneficial relationship. The older woman has relied on illusions and money to smooth her way in life. The younger woman has relied on her scrupulousness and honesty to make way for herself and her younger brother. Who is the true deceiver? What is honesty and what is its value? Can you stick to principles or comforts in the presence of others’ suffering?