Book Reviews of Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow)

Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow)
Smilla's Sense of Snow - aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow
Author: Tina Nunnally (Translator), Peter Hoeg
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ISBN-13: 9780385315142
ISBN-10: 0385315147
Publication Date: 10/1/1995
Pages: 469
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 77

3.6 stars, based on 77 ratings
Publisher: Delta/BantamDell/Penguin
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

36 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 242 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
One of the best books I've read this year. It's literate, unique, and has a fascinating heroine, Smilla. The only detriment are the several technical descriptions (ships, biology, construction of snow, etc.) which I felt could be cut down. But that's my opinion; another reader may enjoy these descriptions. The essential story is about a repressed woman who is determined to find out why her 11 year old neighbor was murdered. Even though the authorities state his death as an accident, Smilla can tell by looking at the tracks he made that he was murdered. Her pursuit of the truth leads to attempts on her life and eventually to a sea voyage where she gets the (surprising) answers she seeks. The movie is very good too.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 373 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This one takes a lot of effort to read, as you'll no doubt stumble over the cumbersome translation. Perhaps that was what detracted so much from the story, as I could not make myself care about the characters or the plot. Hopefully, you'll have better luck.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on
Helpful Score: 3
Book really is a lot better than the film, and I liked the film.

Juxtaposing the sensibilities of Greenlander and Dane gives some depth to the suspense. Engaging narrative voice. If a book can be at once serious in tone and a light read, this is it.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Suspenseful and facinating. A Danish suspense novel in the vein of John Le Carré--A thriller with moral relevance and political insight.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 524 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Though it probably has the potential to be a good mystery, I just couldn't get into it. Since it was originally written in another language, it may have just lost something in the translation.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 159 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
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.

A movie was made based on this book but as always the book is much better!
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 328 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book is an extremely fast paced, well written thriller with a little science-fiction thrown in! Much better than the movie!!
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on
Helpful Score: 2
Starts as a mystery then evolves into science fiction. Fairly interesting however the plot does become convolutedf and difficult to follow at times.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 275 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is now one of my favorite books. It was fascinating, intriguing, and gorgeous. It took my breath away, and ever since I finished reading it (yesterday) I can't stop thinking about it. A very intelligent book, that gets a bit bogged down in some technicalities, but that never bothered me. The stuff I didn't understand was amazing just the same. I can't say enough about this book. But it is definitely not a day-at-the-beach read.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Interesting both as a work of fiction and a window into Greenlander culture.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I learned more about Greenland than I had ever expected to in reading this book. It's a mystery full of science and well-written. I saw the movie before I read the book and that helped get through a few parts that were a bit confusing.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting mystery novel set in Denmark and Greenland. Extremely well written. Dark.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 36 more book reviews
Smilla's Sense of Snow is a book I read when it first came out, but having recently TiVo'd the movie (and stopping it before the end), I realized that I wanted to read it again.

The book starts with the death of a little boy, Isaiah, who lives in the same building as Smilla Jaspersen in Copenhagen with his alcoholic mother. He had plunged from the roof of the building, leaving behind only footprints. Smilla, knowing that Isaiah had a fear of heights, and examining the footprints, realized that there's no way that Isaiah would be on the roof intentionally...so she begins to try to sort out the mystery of what happened. Her investigations take her into the dark and dangerous world of corporate secrets and conspiracies, but even with her freedom and life at stake, she has to get to the bottom of it all. But that's not all there is to this book. It's also an examination and critique of life in Greenland both before and after Denmark granted the Greenlanders home rule in 1979 as well as an attempt to understand environmental changes affecting Greenland.

While the mystery starts out strong (I enjoy a good conspiracy-type thriller to a point), what really carries this book is Smilla's character -- she's like an early Lisbeth Salander (from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) who doesn't let anyone get in her way. Smilla is a misfit and has an affinity for other misfits, and like the later Lisbeth, has her own sense of morality and justice. The thriller part of this book will keep you reading, but at some point it becomes kind of science-fiction-ish which for me was a bit of a problem. However, it's very readable and you won't want to give it up until it's over.

I'd recommend it mostly to fans of Scandinavian crime fiction. It's not your average thriller/suspense type of novel, and people who could care less about Greenland politics, culture and science may find it a little tough going. Otherwise, it's a good way to spend a few hours.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on
I got the book because I liked the movie. The plot seems really convoluted. Things move slowly but Smilla herself comes across as a quite vivid not altogether likeable character.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 10 more book reviews
I found this a particularly exciting and engaging story by an author that was new to me when I first read the book 15 yr ago. I have recently re-read it and still find it a very good book. Unfortunately, the books available in the US are slightly different from those published in Europe right after it was translated into English. That book had a blue cover with a dark silhouette on it. The later editions changed the cover and, I think, a few parts of the story for a different audience.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be captivated for several hours.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 65 more book reviews
A superb thriller with a combination of suspense narrative, Hemingwayesque prose, exotic setting and spellbinding central female.

She thinks more highly of snow and ice than she does of love. She lives in a world of numbers, science and memories- a dark, ecotic stranger in a strange land. And now Smilla Jasperson is convinced she has uncovered a shattering crime....
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 11 more book reviews
Winner of the crime writers' association Silver Dagger Award. Smilla Jaspersen's 6 year old neighbor falls to his death from their apartment roof and it is deemed a tragic accident. However, Smilla has a "feeling for snow" and the boy's last footprints tell her a story she can not ignore. Smilla, a physicist in Copenhagen becomes involved in a mystery filled with betrayal and secrets and a mission on a ship so secret that not even the captain knows the final destination.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on
Book started out interesting, but ended in a science fiction-y way. I also think it probably lost a lot in the translation.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 23 more book reviews
This is an unusual premise for a mystery and Peter Hoeg does a good job of making you feel the snow. Recommended highly and rated it a 5 star.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 334 more book reviews
This book was not an easy read - but it was fascinating, even if difficult to follow at times. Smilla Jaspersen is a Greenlander living in Denmark. Her neighbor and friend, 7-year-old Isaiah, is found dead one day, apparently having fallen off the roof of his home while playing. Despite the police's official verdict, Smilla doesn't believe it is an accident as she knows Isaiah to be afraid of heights, so she starts investigating - and slowly opens up a can of worms. I was fascinated by the setting and culture of Denmark and Greenland, so unfamiliar to me, but the story at several points bogged down and I found this a bit of a slow read for me. However, the language is haunting and eerie, weaving an atmosphere of quiet and mystery. There were several sections as the story progresses toward its climax when I felt that Smilla's survival in her encounters with the villains becomes a bit contrived, but it was still overall a good read. My actual rating is 3.5 but I rounded up to 4 for the intriguing characters.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 351 more book reviews
From the Publisher
Smilla's Sense of Snow presents one of the toughest heroines in modern fiction. 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. But opposition appeals to Smilla. As all of Copenhagen settles down for a quiet Christmas, Smilla's investigation takes her from a fervently religious accountant to a tough-talking pathologist and an alcoholic shipping magnate and into the secret files of the Danish company responsible for extracting most of Greenland's mineral wealth - and finally onto a ship with an international cast of villains bound for a mysterious mission on an uninhabitable island off Greenland. To read Smilla's Sense of Snow is to be taken on a magical, nerve-shattering journey - from the snow-covered streets of Copenhagen to the awesome beauty of the Arctic ice caps. A mystery, a love story, and an elegy for a vanishing way of life, Smilla's Sense of Snow is a breathtaking achievement, an exceptional feat of storytelling.

From The Critics
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.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on
An interesting thriller that keeps the reader thoroughly engrossed. I loved it.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 10 more book reviews
Made me want to learn more about Greenland. Had some weird sexual stuff sort of slipped into the story (not in any way the main point of the story). Definitely not your typical mystery/crime novel!
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 69 more book reviews
This story is haunting. I was riveted to this book.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 534 more book reviews
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.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 194 more book reviews
She thinks more highly of snow and ice than she does of love. She lives in a world of numbers, science and memories--a dark, exotic stranger in a strange land. And now Smilla Jasperson is convinced she has uncovered a shattering crime....
It happened in the Copenhagen snow. A six year old boy, a Greelander like Smilla, fell to his death from the top of his apartment building. While the boy's body is still warm the police pronounce it an accident. But Smilla knows her young neighbor didn't fall from the rooftop on his own. Soon she is following a path of clues as clear to her as footsteps in the snow. For her dead neighbor and for herself, she must embark on a harrowing journey of lies, revelation and violence that will take her back to the world of ice and snow from which she comes, where an explosive secret waits beneath the ice.....
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 381 more book reviews
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.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 7 more book reviews
It happened in the Copenhagen snow. A six-year-old boy, a Greenlander like Smilla, fell to his death from the top of his apartment building. While the boy's body is still warm the police pronounce it an accident. But Smilla knows her young neighbor didn't fall from the rooftop on his own. Soon she is following a path of clues as clear to her as footsteps in the snow. For her dead neighbor and for herself, she must embark on a harrowing journey of lies, revelation, and violence that will take her back to the world of ice and snow from which she comes, where an explosive secret waits beneath the ice...
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 12 more book reviews
A great thriller. I was surprised to find that it was beautifully written as well as suspensful.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 118 more book reviews
this was quite a good book. a little dry in some areas, but a good mystery.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 29 more book reviews
A very strange book which kept me interested from the beginning to the end. Great thriller which won several awards.
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Named "Best Book of the Year" by Time, Entertainment Weekly, and People.

"Splendid entertainment...the suspense novel as exploration of the heart." --The New York Times Book Review
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 255 more book reviews
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 tracksand the fact that the boy had a fear of heightsobsesses 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 contradictionscaustic, 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.

From School Library Journal
YA
A compelling and suspenseful adventure about a solitary 37-year-old Greenlander, an unemployed glaciologist who lives in Copenhagen. Smilla Jaspersen is caught between the pull of her Inuit roots and the restrictions and demands of the modern industrial world. The story begins when her six-year-old neighbor falls from a snow-covered roof, and it is declared an accidental death. She and the boy were close friends, and she was keenly aware of his abnormal fear of heights. This, together with her keen Inuit understanding of snow, causes her to doubt that it was an accident. When she questions the local authorities they are not interested, and she begins to make inquiries on her own. Her investigation takes her from shipyards, corporate headquarters, and the dark back streets of the Danish capital to a secretive voyage along the icy Greenland coast. Mysterious characters, violent encounters, and an intriguing puzzle propel the story along. The final scenes rapidly accelerate in action and suspense. It's a rare thriller that has such a strong, fascinating female protagonist, but this book also excels in story and characterization. It's a winner.

From Kirkus Reviews
Danish novelist Heg's first English-language publication is an attempt to freeze out Gorky Park by moving from an intimate mystery to an ever-widening circle of corruption and dangerand to even colder climes. Surly Inuit/Greenlander Smilla Jaspersen is a world-class expert on ice and snow who, since emigrating to Denmark, has gone on nine scientific expeditions to her homeland and published half a dozen highly regarded papers in scholarly journalsbut she still can't hold a steady job. When Isaiah Christensen, her six-year-old downstairs neighbor with a long-standing fear of heights, plunges from the roof of the White Palace, their apartment building, Smilla presses for a police inquiry; but instead of a homicide detective, the police send an investigator from the fraud division. Why? Also, why did somebody perform a muscle biopsy on Isaiah after he died? What was he doing on that roof in the first place? And what does his death have to do with his father's death on an expedition to Greenland two years beforea death that, Smilla learns from extravagantly pious accountant Elsa L?bing, was recompensed by a full, unearned pension by the Cryolite Corporation? With the help of another neighbor, dyslexic mechanic Peter Fjl, Smilla follows a trail from the White Palace through the Cryolite records of a fateful (and fatal) 1966 expedition, and ends up aboard the Kronos, a smuggling ship stuffed with drugs and desperate characters and bound for Greenland's Barren Glacier and a truly unimaginable cargo. Smilla, a wonderfully tough-talking amateur sleuth, gets out past her depth aboard the Kronos when her shipmates keep trying to toss her overboard. But her combination of brisk misanthropy and shrewd commentary on the colonial exploitation of Greenland--yes, this is a postcolonial novel about the Arctic--could score big.
reviewed Smilla's Sense of Snow (aka Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) on + 36 more book reviews
A Danish suspense novel made into a movie.
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One of my all time favorites. Much better than the movie.
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I ended up owning two copies of this book~