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Smilla's Sense of Snow Paperback – Mar 13 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada (March 13 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385658184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385658188
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #144,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

In this international bestseller, Peter Høeg successfully combines the pleasures of literary fiction with those of the thriller. Smilla Jaspersen, half Danish, half Greenlander, attempts to understand the death of a small boy who falls from the roof of her apartment building. Her childhood in Greenland gives her an appreciation for the complex structures of snow, and when she notices that the boy's footprints show he ran to his death, she decides to find out who was chasing him. As she attempts to solve the mystery, she uncovers a series of conspiracies and cover-ups and quickly realizes that she can trust nobody. Her investigation takes her from the streets of Copenhagen to an icebound island off the coast of Greenland. What she finds there has implications far beyond the death of a single child. The unusual setting, gripping plot, and compelling central character add up to one of the most fascinating and literate thrillers of recent years. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The title of this quiet, absorbing suspense novel by a Danish author only suggests the intriguing story it tells. After young Isaiah Christiansen falls from a snow-covered roof in present-day Copenhagen, something about his lone rooftop tracks--and the fact that the boy had a fear of heights--obsesses Smilla Qaavigaaq Jaspersen, a woman who had befriended him. Smilla is 37, unmarried, and, like Isaiah, part of Denmark's small Eskimo/Greenlander community. She is also a minor Danish authority on the properties and classification of ice. Her search for what had frightened the boy leads her to uncover information about his father's mysterious death on a secret expedition to Greenland, a mission funded by a powerful Danish corporation involved in a strange conspiracy stretching back to WW II. As related in Smilla's sober, no-nonsense narration, the plot acquires credibility even as its details become more bizarre. While the novel will probably be compared to Gorky Park , Hoeg has much more to offer, both in terms of his impeccable literary style and in the glimpses he provides of an utterly foreign culture. Its chief virtue, however, is the narrator: Smilla is never less than believable in her contradictions--caustic, caring, thoughtful, impulsive, determined and above all, rebellious. Smoothly translated by Nunnally, this is Hoeg's third novel, but the first to appear in English. A dark, taut, compelling story, it's a real find. 40,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; BOMC selection.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
This book doesn't have a genre. It's just literature, and it's good literature. Sometimes it seems to be the general opinion that if a book is entertaining it cannot possibly be a work of art. "Smilla's Sense Of Snow" is another book that proves it to be wrong.
The most surprising thing about the book is its genuine feeling, its incredibly surreal and yet exquisitely natural flow. Nowadays most authors feel the need to set a fast pace so that the reader doesn't get bored. And, indeed, people have learned to hurry. "Smilla's Sense Of Snow", however, allows one to look around, actually experience things, not just rush through them. The book seems strangely dreamlike, reading it is a lot like moving through water - you are awed by the alternate world that can be found underwater, and you cannot move swiftly, and after some time you learn to understand the water and appreciate the beauty of simply being.
When it comes to women, literature is full of clichés. Peter Hoeg's Smilla is certainly not one of them; she is original to say the least. Still, the essence of woman is there. One cannot help but wonder at the way a man has been able to create a woman who's very unlike most women in literature (or life, indeed) so perfectly that she doesn't need to be feminine to convince the reader she is one, even when the reader happens to be female.
"Smilla's Sense Of Snow" is a fascinating book. Books such as this one are rare nowadays.
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Format: Paperback
It was a cold, bleak November day. The noiseless, lackluster streets of Copenhagen lie covered in blankets of freshly-fallen snow. Why, if you could imagine the scene, you would almost be tempted to describe it as "tranquil." But tranquil it isn't, for somewhere along one of these whitened, desolate streets of Copenhagen lies the lifeless body of six-year-old Isaiah Christiansen. Ruled an "accidental" death by the local police officials who were convinced that the young boy slipped and fell while playing on the roof of his apartment building, Isaiah was eventually laid to rest. But in the mind of Smilla Jasperson, Isaiah's close friend and neighbor, there were still too many unanswered questions evolving the little boy's death. From day one, thirty-seven-year-old Smilla never believed that Isaiah's death was a mere accident. Telltale signs left by Isaiah's footprints on the snowy rooftop had all but convinced Smilla that little Isaiah--who was petrified of heights and would never have willingly gone up on the roof in the first place--had met up with foul play and she was determined to seek out the truth even if it killed her. What really happened up there on the roof that blustery November day? Who could possibly have wanted this innocent child dead? And why? What secrets did Isaiah carry with him to his grave? Readers will slowly but surely find the answers to these questions (and more) as they embark on an endless and treacherous journey alongside Smilla as she puts forth all efforts in searching for the truth behind Isaiah's untimely death.
This novel was the first I've ever read by the Danish writer, Peter Hoeg. I bought it after a friend of mine (whom I admire for his exquisite taste in literature) highly recommended it.
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By A Customer on March 10 2002
Format: Paperback
Smilla's Sense of Snow is an intelligent and fast-paced mystery. Although the many subplots and diversions are all ultimately tied to the main plot, they are, at times, quite confusing.
I thought the character of Smilla Jasperson was quite well-drawn, although she sometimes accomplished physical feats the seemed impossible. I didn't particularly like Smilla, but I did find her both memorable and unique. Sadly, the character of the mechanic, who was quite fascinating, was terribly sketchy. In my opinion, this book would have benifitted greatly had the mechanic been more fully fleshed-out.
Personally, I enjoyed reading all the details of the snow and ice, but there were so many of them I think some readers were no doubt bored with it all and probably began skimming over them. This would have been a mistake because, to some extent, it was necessary to understand these details in order to understand the book.
I've noticed that many readers had problems with the ending of this book. I didn't. I thought the ending fit the story perfectly. It was quite complicated and would have been confusing to anyone who wasn't following the story carefuly, but it was perfect.
For me, the most annoying thing about this book was the translation. I found many words used out of context and worse, meaningless phrases and sentence fragments thrown in here and there. It was quite annoying. The author is such a skilled and intelligent writer, I can't believe this was done deliberately in the original Danish.
If you like classy, intelligent thrillers and are willing to absorb a wealth of detail, you're sure to love this book. Readers looking for something light and relaxing should probably skip this one...at least for now.
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Format: Paperback
There was a time back in the mid 90s when this book first came out in paperback when I couldn't seem to go anywhere without running into a colleague who was reading this book. That struck we as ironic, since I am a scientist and this book is virulently anti-science and anti-technology.
Smilla's mother seems to represent a sort of aboriginal virtue while her father represents the decadence of civilization. Smilla is split right down the middle, which leaves her exactly nowhere. She is the ultimate outsider, at home in neither the frozen wilderness of her mother's homeland nor the swishy cocktail-party universe of her father's world (he is a famous surgeon). I suppose that Hoeg wanted Smilla to represent all of us in some way. Her mother is our "good" pre-industrial self and her father is our "bad" technological self. I am told that Mr. Hoeg is fond of walking the winter streets of Copenhagen in his bare feet on occasion. He is an eccentric and perhaps even a crank with a axe to grind. He is, however, also a very good writer.
He apparently also isn't all that fond of his reading public. This book would seem to me to be a send-up of both the mystery and thriller genres, the two genres that are consumed by the largest slice of the reading public. He is really making fun of that audience by giving them a mystery that doesn't have much of a resolution and a thriller that has all the plot elements of one of those silly movies that they (used to) make fun of on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
So the book ends up being frustrating because Hoeg can't really seem to help writing well and yet the structure and plot of the book are essentially a joke. Oh, and the movie was even worse, although I liked seeing Copenhagen in a film for the first time.
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