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Fräulein Smillas Gespür für Schnee by…
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Fräulein Smillas Gespür für Schnee (original 1992; edition 2005)

by Peter Hoeg

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,211128942 (3.75)414
Member:towo
Title:Fräulein Smillas Gespür für Schnee
Authors:Peter Hoeg
Info:Süddeutsche Zeitung / Bibliothek (2005), Edition: 1, Gebundene Ausgabe
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:SZ-Bibliothek, fiction

Work details

Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg (1992)

  1. 151
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (taz_)
    taz_: Charm school drop-outs Lisbeth Salander of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and Smilla Qaaviqaaq Jaspersen of "Smilla's Sense of Snow" strike me as unconventional soul sisters of the detective mystery. Each haunted by demons of the past, fiercely independent, armored in cynicism and misanthropy, they share a certain psychic landscape and brilliant, icy resourcefulness. If you love one, I predict you'll love the other.… (more)
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    jayne_charles: More intrigue at sub-zero temperatures
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» See also 414 mentions

English (113)  Dutch (4)  Danish (3)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (128)
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
From the book jacket Smilla Qaavigaaq Jaspersen is part Inuit, but she lives in Copenhagen. She is thirty-seven, single, childless, moody, and she refuses to fit in. Smilla’s six-year-old Inuit neighbor, Isaiah, manages only with a stubbornness that matches her own to befriend her. When Isaiah falls off a roof and is killed, Smilla doesn’t believe it’s an accident. She has seen his tracks in the snow, and she knows about snow. She decides to investigate and discovers that even the police don’t want her to get involved.

My reactions
I really wanted to like this. It’s been on my tbr for ages and it fits a genre I usually enjoy: Psychological thriller / mystery with a strong female lead. And Smilla is definitely a strong female heroine. She’s a keen observer, tenacious, self-reliant, and intelligent. She’s also moody and distrustful, keeping herself somewhat closed off from those around her. And perhaps it’s that quality that made the book less appealing to me. I could never get to really know Smilla or care about her.

Høeg does have a way with words, however. His writing is very atmospheric; I could practically feel the cold, smell the briny sea air, or taste the food. A couple of examples:
“His pants have frozen into an armor of ice.”
“Toward the spot where the current has hollowed out the ice so it’s as thin as a membrane, a fetal membrane. Underneath, the sea is dark and salty like blood.”
“With whipped cream so fresh and soft and yellowish white, as if they had a cow standing in back of the bakery.”


And I think this passage perfectly describes Smilla and her philosophy:
“Whining is a virus, a lethal, infectious, epidemic disease.”

There are sections of the book that were mesmerizing, but many sections that just bored me to tears. And then it just ….. ends. With no real resolution. Even after finishing it I’m not sure I understand what happened. On the whole it was a chore to read, and it took me three weeks to finish it. ( )
  BookConcierge | May 16, 2018 |
When this novel was published approximately 25 years ago, it made a tremendous splash and ushered in the “Nordic noir” genre. It earned rave reviews and appeared on many critics’ Top Ten lists; many popular publications named it the best book of the year. Now having read it, I cannot understand the plaudits this novel has received.

The first half of the novel is intriguing—a young boy falls to his death from the roof of a building in Copenhagen, and Smilla (his neighbor) senses suspicious circumstances. A Greenland native, Smilla possesses expertise in snow, ice, and other adverse weather conditions. She is also rather stoic and distant. She is not an endearing or friendly woman. We learn much about her dysfunctional family and her morose childhood. We also learn much about the Danish colonization of Greenland and the ensuing cultural tensions between Danes and Greenlanders.

In the course of Smilla’s investigation, she encounters international corporate skullduggery and a host of shady and nefarious characters. About halfway through the novel, the setting shifts to a large ship en route to Greenland, where Smilla continues her pursuit of the truth behind the boy’s death. At this point, the novel grows decidedly less interesting. The ship is populated by a variety of indistinguishable villains, and the action becomes confusing and tedious, culminating in an astoundingly unsatisfying conclusion. ( )
  jimrgill | Mar 13, 2018 |
It starts slow but it is a very good story. The ending was predictable which is why I'm not rating it a full five stars. The winner in this novel is the protagonist and the length of the novel is somewhat off-putting but if reading it, reaching the end is rewarding. ( )
  KeishonT | Feb 16, 2018 |
I don’t very often tread the streets of Copenhagen having only spent 48 hours there before. I’ve spent about 48 hours less than that in Greenland. So, Peter Høeg’s social rant against the treatment of Greenlanders by Denmark (heavily disguised as a thriller) was very interesting.

This was a good thing because the thriller that he buried it all up in didn’t really do it for me. I found that contrived, nonsensical and full of the obvious kinds of coincidences a writer who can’t really do thrillers has to rely on (c.f. Dan Brown). Oh, and he can’t write an ending either.

What you need to do with this novel is peel back the layers of Arctic insulation, chuck aside the crampons and ice picks, forget you’re on an ice-breaker somewhere in the North Atlantic and realise that you are being offered a tantalising glimpse into the underbelly of Danish history. You won’t see trailers for this history on TV like you do Danish bacon or Lurpak. Denmark is not advertising its colonial legacy any more widely than any other nation you care to name. That Høeg is doing so is, as I say, a good thing.

Smilla is, as far too many Danes are, half Greenlandic and half Danish. Yet, it is her mother’s half wherein her true identity lies. When her vast and intimate knowledge of snow conditions leads her to interpret something fishy at the scene of a so-called suicide, she charts a path that eventually leads her back to her homeland.

What exactly she finds there is anyone’s guess because Høeg seems to become obsessed with Artic tech and microbiology at the same pace as you lose the plot. But it’s the journey that matters more than the destination here with occasional insights into how Greenlanders are treated in Denmark, the social impact of colonialisation on Greenland and the whitewashing of Danish-Arctic history.

It’s just a shame that Høeg didn’t think that this was enough in itself. A novel with this focus would have been an extremely important one for Denmark. As it is, I could have done without the subterfuge, but I do know many who wouldn’t have swallowed that pill without a spoonful of suspense. So be it. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jun 19, 2017 |
I read about 1/3 of this book before giving up. I liked the main character, the setting, and even the plot. However, the writing style was too long and tedious and dragged on. I kept losing focus, forgetting what was happening, and had to backtrack. Might be a good choice for a long flight when you can really get into it without interruption. ( )
  technodiabla | Jan 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Høegprimary authorall editionscalculated
Berni, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cruys, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
David, FelicityTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hassiepen, Peter-AndreasCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haughton, RichardPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nunnally, TinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pascual, Ana SofíaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wesemann, Monikasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Краснова, ЕленаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Tr. Tiina Nunnally, US publication:

It's freezing - an extraordinary 0 Fahrenheit - and it's snowing, and in the language that is no longer mine, the snow is qanik - big, almost weightless crystals falling in clumps and covering the ground with a layer of pulverized white frost.
Tr. 'F. David' (Tiina Nunnally, plus changes by the publisher and author), UK publication:

It is freezing, an extraordinary -18°C, and it's snowing, and in the language which is no longer mine, the snow is qanik - big, almost weightless crystals falling in stacks and covering the ground with a layer of pulverized white frost.
Det fryser ekstraordinære 18 grader celcius, og det sner, og på det sprog som ikke mere er mit, er sneen qanik, store næsten vægtløse krystaller, der falder i stabler, og dækker jorden med et lag af pulveriseret, hvid frost.
Quotations
This winter I've been able to watch the ice forming
"Even if they ripped off your arms and legs, you'd find some way to kick back,"~ Verlaine to Smilla
The bad thing about death is not that it changes the future. It's that it leaves us alone with our memories.
The number system is like human life. First you have the natural numbers. The ones that are whole and positive. The numbers of the small child. But human consciousness expands. The child discovers longing. The mathematical expression for longing is the negative numbers. The formalization of the feeling that you are missing something. Human consciousness expands and grows even more, and the child discovers the in-between spaces. Between stones, between pieces of moss on the stones, between people. And between numbers. ... That leads to fractions. Whole numbers plus fractions produce the rational numbers. Human consciousness doesn't stop there. It wants to go beyond reason. It adds an operation as absurd as the extraction of roots. And produces irrational numbers. ... It's a form of madness. Because the irrational numbers are infinite. They can't be written down. They force human consciousness out beyond the limits. And by adding irrational numbers to rational numbers, you get real numbers. ... It never stops. ... We expand the real numbers with the imaginary ones, square roots of negative numbers. these are numbers that normal human consciousness cannot comprehend. And when we add the imaginary numbers to the real numbers, we have the complex number system.
The problem with being able to hate the colonization of Greenland with a pure hatred is that, no matter what you may detest about it, the colonization irrefutably improved the material needs of an existence that was one of the most difficult in the world.
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
Original title: Frøken Smilla’s fornemmelse for sne
US Title: Smilla's Sense of Snow
UK title: Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow
Publisher's editors
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Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary
Smilla's friend is dead
After falling from a roof.
She investigates.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385315147, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:47 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Smilla Qaavigaaq Jaspersen investigates the mysterious death of a six year old Inuit neighbor in Copenhagen.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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