Smilla's Sense of Snow
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Smilla's Sense of Snow

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  20,515 ratings  ·  1,226 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 Jaspersen is convinced she has uncovered a shattering crime...

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.W...more
Paperback, 469 pages
Published October 1st 1995 by Delta (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul
Miss Smilla and her cast of characters were so quirky that after 100 pages I found all this quirk over the front of my shirt, all over the dining table (well, I call it a dining table) and stuck between the keys on my keyboard. Had to get it out with a Swiss Army knife, once it had dried. Sent a sample off to the lab and the results came back "two parts David Lynch, three parts frankly unbelievable heroine, three parts uninvolving plot which moves at the speed of an exhausted glacier". As I thou...more
Carolina
Aug 05, 2007 Carolina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: glaciologists. or anybody who likes an intriguing, well-written story.
Smilla is, I think, my hands-down favourite fictional character. Which makes it easy for me to keep returning to this book. It's a translation from Danish (by Tiina Nunnally) and beautiful and technical and never sentimental, and it touches on issues I find particularly interesting such as European culture versus aboriginal culture (in this case Danish vs. Greenlandic) and the related issues of language and identity. Peter Hoeg has a mind that is both scientific and whimsical and I find that par...more
Larissa
It took me two months to finish this book and not until the last three weeks and 150 pages of that endeavor did I realize that it is actually quite terrible. It's been quite awhile since I've felt so cheated, nay--betrayed--by a novel. Because when you begin this book it is primarily concerned with the slow unfolding of character. You are tied to the titular Miss Smilla and her cynical absolutist world view. It doesn't take long to figure out that she has no interest in providing you with a fair...more
Josh
After an initially over-enthusiastic 5 stars (which prompted consternation from some parties!) and then a too-sober 3 stars, I'm settling on four stars for this intelligent, brooding, minutely researched, acutely observed thriller. I think I wanted to give it five stars for two reasons: I read some negative reviews on this very webpage, and, finding them idiotic, wanted to vindicate this novel. I also cannot get out of my head the image of the Swiss German cook Urs using a freshly baked, burning...more
Sean
Jun 26, 2007 Sean rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people who wonder what it's like to have a feeling for snow and ice
Smilla, half Kalaallit, half Dane, is taciturn and withdrawn—a wounded child grown into a dark, silent, often bitter woman. But she opens her heart to Isaiah, a young boy whom life has also wounded. When Isaiah dies, falling several stories from the snow-covered roof of a warehouse, she is forced out of her comfortable isolation to ask questions. Why had he climbed the scaffolding to play on the warehouse roof when he was terrified of heights? Why do his tracks go straight off the edge if he was...more
Tynan Power
I picked up this book for free, because it was a title I knew I'd heard. Once I started reading it, I was initially put off by the narrator/protagonist, Smilla, whose tone is aloof, cool, self-absorbed. I was also put off by realizing it is a mystery that borders on "thriller"...not my usual preferred genre.

However, I found myself drawn back to the book until I became engrossed in the story. About halfway through the book, I started underlining passages, turns of phrase that I liked, observation...more
Andrew Nixon
Complex characters, dizzying plot, starkly beautiful language, and tremendous psychological insights.
emily
I feel like everyone I know (even my doctor, who spotted it poking out of my bag) loved this book. And I just don't get it.

Smilla makes me think of Lisbeth Salander, who was the reason I hated "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and I think the two books have a lot in common. They're both, at their cores, books which say "this woman is real weird and kind of unpleasant and seems like she might not bathe frequently, but everyone who meets her thinks, 'damn, you's one cool chick.'" Why do they thin...more
Margitte
It was an intense read. It had me confused from time to time. The emotional apathy and disconnection of the characters confused me here and there. For instance, people want to kill each others and then sit out on the deck of a ship and smoke a cigarette together.

The death of a little boy had an emotionally-challenged woman, Miss Smilla, who knew everything about snow and ice, start asking questions. In the process she unknowingly opens up a can of worms...Yes, definitely worms...

It was not a hi...more
Jan-Maat
Mar 22, 2014 Jan-Maat added it  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: People who like overly complicated thrillers
Smilla's Sense of Snow wasn't what I was expecting. It was not so bad a book that I could fairly say that I was disappointed but I wasn't left satisfied after the reading experience either.

First off the hero of the story is a half Greenlander who thinks back on her Greenland heritage. Her knowledge of snow and ice, acquired in childhood, are important to the plot, but this is a book written by a Dane. Once we get into the exploration of issues around colonialism then it starts to feel a little c...more
Harry
It's the first decade of the 21st century. A chill, icy wind blows in from the North, carrying with it a sociopolitical narrative of lands British and American observers have long idealized as incorporating the social democratic ideal. The icy wind that hits American shores howls through us, unprepared as we are, and dismantles one by one our precious concept of a world region that we have lazily lumped together into a bucket named Scandinavia.

We shiver.

This first decade of a new century has br...more
Stanka
Jan 28, 2008 Stanka rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Women who like to read about tough women
I first saw the film. You couldn't find it in the video store under "Smilla" because it was translated (into Serbian) as "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow." No, this is not Serbian originality: the British translation is the one with "feeling", the US one is "sensible." But it's the same book.
I guess I never knew that Greenland was a Danish province, or shall we say, a colony. So here is a book that draws together a number of interesting threads: murder mystery, post-colonialism, immigration, scie...more
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 08, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Thrillers); 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, thriller
Interesting read. My first time to read a book from Denmark and originally written in Danish. My first time to read some facts about Greenland and the Arctic Circle. My first time to learn many things about snow. Oh snow! I have not seen snow-covered ground. Neither have I seen snow falling from the sky. This book made me want to go to Greenland and learn all the things Smilla Jasperson knows and senses about snow.

The story is about Smilla, who is half-Danish (father) and half-Greenlander (mothe...more
Raselius
This is one of my favourite exciting stories to read. Once you get in to it it is hard to stop reading. Everytime I read it I discover something new. It starts out with just a small event in Denmark - a boy have died in an accident. But one of the neighbours, Smilla from Greenland refuses to buy the police explanation and sets out on a quest to find the truth about her friend. Because Smilla is from Greenland she knows all these things about snow that the police and most of the rest of us don't...more
Manny
This cult classic has a lot of things going for it. Miss Smilla is a stylish, engaging heroine with terrific dress sense, dark wit, courage under fire and fluency in Greenlandic. (I believe it's West Greenlandic if you care about that kind of thing). At one point, she performs an imaginative sex act that I've never seen described in any other place. There's a brooding sense of menace and a weird conspiracy that gradually comes together...

I don't know why I'm so bothered by the fact that the stor...more
Lori (Hellian)
This book came up on my status update, and I noticed I had given it 3 stars. I'm raising it to 4, because even tho I read it so long ago, I remember Smilla. And all the different types of snow, altho I couldn't tell you the exact words. (Here in the US there's only the word snow, whereas Inuits have many different words to specify the type of snow. I found that fascinating.)

I remember getting completely engrossed, so between that and the fact that the book still lingers in my mind decades later,...more
Virtuella
Book Review, Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow

I've been wanting to read this book for over two decades and was glad when I finally got my hands on it. I expected great things of it, not the least because it had been recommended, back at school, by my beloved and sadly deceased teacher. I really, really wanted to like it.

I did like it for about the first hundred pages or so. The tenderness of the relationship between Smilla and the little boy, her memories of her mother, that was interesting. Then i...more
Antof9
I've seen this title in multiple languages on the sidebar of the BookCrossing website so many times, and it's always intrigued me. In speaking with a friend recently, she mentioned a guy who hated it so much that he burned a copy of it, and neither of us could imagine feeling that strongly about a book! Thus, when she got her hands on a copy, she said she'd share it with me too :)

And although I'd have liked a more "concrete" ending, I have to say this book held my attention from the beginning. I...more
Becky
I first read Smilla's Sense of Snow when I was at school. We had a fantastic English teacher for GCSE English, who also ran a book club for those of us who were very enthusiastic. It mostly consisted of sitting on the Moors above Haworth pretending we were a governess, but we also read this book. And I don't think I was quite ready for it by then. Peter Hoeg has written a very mature book, with a difficult but capable heroine, that is captivating and mysterious from start to finish. Set in the s...more
Michelle
Oh my, this book is bad. The premise is an interesting enough hook - a boy has fallen off a snow laden roof. The police file it as an accident, but Smilla, with an extraordinary feeling for snow, thinks not. Smilla's intuition that a banal letter found in the boy's apartment about his mother's pension might hold a clue to the boy's death leads her to Elsa Lubing, signee of the letter. Elsa gives Smilla the key and secret code that allow her to break into the Cryolite Corporation's archives holdi...more
Dem
Miss Smillas Feeling for Snow is an utterly bizarre and strange novel.

"The Novel is set in Copenhagen where six year old Isaiah falls to his death from city rooftop. The police pronounce it an accident. But Isaiah's neighbour Smilla suspects murder. She embarks on a dangerous quest to find the truth, following a path of clues as clear to her as footsteps in the snow"

I found this novel such a drag as the plot was boring and really did not like or care about the character of Smilla, I really foun...more
Chris
Smilla's Sense of Snow is a vast and challenging book. It's challenging because the main character, Smilla, resists every attempt that the reader makes to like her. She is totally unapolgetic. And that is wonderful. The book also makes use of setting. Hoeg transmits the feeling of Cophenhague. There is also a good sense of character and family struture. The book seems to lose steam slightly once the setting shifts to the boat. Still, this is a good read.
William D. Prystauk
A book is a book and a movie is a movie. But like the movie, “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” was ultimately a big disappointment.

Høeg starts off well with the sarcastic, loner of great wit, Smilla Jaspersen telling us her story about a dead neighbor boy in Denmark. Concerned that the boy didn’t fall or jump off a roof because he was afraid of heights, she opens her own personal investigation and goes after the truth to prove his murder.

At the start, the book is intriguing, not just because of Smilla’s...more
Larry Bassett
I like a book with short chapters. You can fit a chapter into a busy life here and there. Or maybe into an impatient life while the water boils. In some minds, Smilla is comparable to Salander. That would be a good thing as far as I am concerned. But there doesn’t seem to be a Smilla trilogy. But the author is still living at the moment. RIP, Stieg.

There cannot be too many books that have parts that take place in Greenland. That in itself made it worth looking into. I flew over Greenland once e...more
Michael
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Valerie
Feb 04, 2008 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: those looking for something unusual.
Recommended to Valerie by: Tanneke
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jelena
I first heard about “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” at the age of 9 or 10 an was fascinated by the thought of someone having a special sense of snow, even though I am not sure I had an idea what that meant. Apart from that, thriller, mystery, detective novel etc. have never been my cup of tea, so there might not be a lot of point in me reviewing something of the genre. Or maybe that is exactly the point, since I am not reading for the sake of an adrenaline boost.

The basic plot is not unheard of – the...more
Jeff
Before I visited Europe, my friends would all tell me to visit Copenhagen. They said that it’s one of the most beautiful European cities and the Danes are the friendliest people in Europe. Well, not in this book. Copenhagen is a dark, cold and corrupt place and the Danes, a shifty, secretive and lethal bunch.

Enter Smilla, one of the more interesting protagonists I’ve come across, who is half Danish and half Inuit. Here lies the dichotomy of her character: she’s never truly comfortable with who s...more
Joe  Noir
I was never really interested in this novel (1992), or the movie version (1997), until I recently read an article on the Cleveland Plain Dealer website: “ 10 Essential Nordic Noir Authors and Books” by Laura DeMarco, which listed Smilla as number nine.

This intrigued me enough to check out the movie trailer on YouTube, which then got me interested in reading the book. I am glad I finally did. I was surprised to find it a hardboiled mystery/SF/thriller. It begins with the death of a six year old b...more
Donatella
A me Peter Høeg piace molto. La prima cosa che ho letto di lui è "I quasi adatti", in seguito "La bambina silenziosa". "Il senso di Smilla per la neve" non l'avevo mai affrontato anche perché si trattava di un romanzo molto famoso circa 20 anni fa ed io sono un'inguaribile, congenita Bastian-Contrario. Ho ovviamente letto alcune recensioni qui su Goodreads e ho scoperto che a molti non è piaciuto.
Di solito a me Peter Høeg piace molto. Ha i ritmi lenti, quasi solenni, che a tratti ricordano le im...more
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Peter Høeg was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Before becoming a writer, he worked variously as a sailor, ballet dancer, and actor. He published his first novel, A History of Danish Dreams (1988), to positive reviews. However, it was Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1992), a million-copy best seller, that earned Høeg immediate and international literary celebrity. His books have been published in more than th...more
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