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Italian Shoes (Fredrik Welin series #1)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  4,002 Ratings  ·  552 Reviews
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published April 2009 by Harvill Secker (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Roderick Hart
Feb 16, 2011 Roderick Hart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is not part of the Wallander series and no crime is involved. It may be unusual in that the two most important characters are both old. Frederick Welin is a surgeon, now retired, who lives on a Swedish island. But for his cat and his dog, both of whom are also old, he lives alone. Given his anti-social tendencies that may be just as well. The only regular contact he has is with Jansson, a postman who delivers what little mail he gets. Jansson is a hypochondriac who regularly has Welin ...more
Es lo primero que leo de Henning Mankell y lo hice porque alguien me dijo que sus mejores novelas eran las no policiacas. No puedo opinar porque acabo de llegar a Mankell.

Zapatos italianos (cuyo título, en mi opinión, es desafortunado) aborda dos temas muy recurrentes: la muerte y las segundas oportunidades. Mankell se las ingenia para que ningún personaje caiga bien (los únicos que se salvan son los perros, el gato y las hormigas, y eso porque van a lo suyo y no se meten con nadie), y hay que r
João Carlos
Jan 06, 2016 João Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

Floresta - Suécia

O sueco Henning Mankell (n. 1945) é um dos meus escritores preferidos, que acompanho de uma forma contínua os seus magníficos livros policiais, com destaque óbvio para os protagonizados por Kurt Wallander. A sua longa ligação a Moçambique onde é Director do Teatro Avenida em Maputo e o seu envolvimento em inúmeras “causas humanitárias” no continente africano, com destaque para “SOS Childrens Villages” e “Save the Children”, colocam-no na vertente pessoal, num patamar de relevo i
Sep 24, 2009 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Boston Globe calls Henning Mankell the "master of atmosphere." This sense of atmosphere is what keeps me reading his Kurt Wallander mysteries, set in Sweden. This book, Italian Shoes, is not a Kurt Wallander mystery; however, it contains many of the elements of the Wallander series: a wounded main character who is lost in his own past failings; a landscape as cold and barren as the main character's life; and a parade of secondary characters as eccentric as they are deeply developed. Also, th ...more
Beth Hartnett
Sep 09, 2013 Beth Hartnett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Swedish author Henning Mankell is known for his Kurt Wallander mystery series, books I intend to check out even though I am not a huge fan of the genre. The writing, at times sparse, at times lyrical, always wonderful, pushed this novel from a 4 to a 5 star for me. The very first quote drew me in..."When the shoe fits, you don't think about the foot..." Chuang Chou. The character development is subtle and spot on as you are drawn into the main character's life and come to understand the choices ...more
Jun 12, 2016 Wilma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Een bijzonder verhaal...Fredrik die 12 jaar alleen op zijn eiland woont en zijn demonen en jeugdtrauma's probeert te ontvluchten. Hij zit in een impasse...totdat z'n vroegere jeugdliefde over het ijs naar hem toe komt. Samen maken ze een roadtrip...waarbij Fredrik verschillende mensen, waaronder z'n dochter, ontmoet en langzamerhand z'n demonen en jeugdtrauma's onder ogen ziet. Hij krijgt weer zin in het leven.
Eenvoudig... maar weergaloos mooi geschreven verhaal!! Ik ga zeker meer van Henning Ma
What I knew of Henning Mankell prior to reading this novel is limited to a Greek TV interview (parts 1, 2, and 3 here – the interview itself is in English, so feel free to watch) and also the various essays he’s published related to his activism in Mozambique and Palestine.
To a certain extent, therefore, as I read I was comparing the protagonist & narrator of Italian Shoes to the author himself. This is not to say that the novel is autobiographical, but there are specific themes in Italian
Jan 29, 2013 Filipa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Com este livro, conheci um novo autor que consegue expressar emoções e fazer chegar essas mesmas emoções a quem tiver oportunidade de o ler.

É um livro que fala ao coração sobretudo acerca de solidão. Um livro que nos transporta ao futuro, permite-nos ver um pouco das consequências quando nos desligamos e não enfrentamos as realidades. Fala do que é envelhecer e não ter nada por que viver. Também fala de reencontros. . . e encontros.

Fala do amor a animais, mas também da sua perda. Fala de isolam
Virgil Larson
Nov 22, 2011 Virgil Larson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book produced a number of vivid and often bizarre images for me. Here is a list of the most memorable: the desolate island seascape; the cold white of the bitter winter; the living room with the ant hill slowly consuming the table cloth; Jansson, the hypochondriac postman with the hydrocopter and his many layers of clothes; Fredrik chopping a hole in the ice and bathing in the icy sea water just to remind himself that he is alive; the appearance of Harriet after 37 years, standing with her ...more
Cheryl Bradley
Jul 30, 2011 Cheryl Bradley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a mystery, for once! After distrastrously amputating the wrong arm of a patient, former surgen Fredik Welin hides himself out in his grandparents' old house on an isolated island in Sweden's outer archipelago. During the winter, just to remind himself he is still living, he cuts open a hole in the ice and drops down naked into the freezing water below. Life has had little meaning for him the last 12 years since his great catastrophe as a surgeon, but all that changes when one winter morning, ...more
Mar 31, 2014 Greg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For the life of me, I don’t understand all the rave reviews this book has received. It only took me two days to read, and after a slew of verbose, florid and over used adjective laden novels, I was initially drawn in by the author’s sparse writing style, but, that wasn’t enough to make the novel.

It could have been such an interesting story but eventually became far too ridicules and unbelievable. Every chapter ended with another implausible scenario to the point that my finishing the book was s
Paul Patterson
Not a page turner. Not a mystery, at least, not a typical Mankell mystery. Italian Shoes is rather like an exercise in learning how to read slowly and sumptuously. Sixty-six year old Frederick Welin for the last twelve years has lived reclusively on an island, formerly owned by his grandparents, in an archipelago off the coast of Sweden. He was an educated man, a medical man. who made a mistake which drove him Grendel-like to the edge of civilization. As a result, he had all the time in the worl ...more
Jun 18, 2009 Teri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Because of the Masterpiece series, and also having seen some Swedish episodes of Kurt Wallander, I started reading Henning Mankell. I've enjoyed the Wallander books, but Mankell also writes general fiction. The narrator of this story lives alone on a Swedish island trying to escape from a past where, as a surgeon, he made a tragic error. One day he sees a woman on the ice coming towards him. She brings to life a past he tried to ignore and forget, and her dying wish is that he fulfill a promise ...more
Scherry Siganporia
Readers! This is truly a book which is beautifully written, narrated with emotions which complex you, simple characters, simplicity personified through the life of the main character who banishes himself to the cold freezing ice covered island of Sweden where he lives a life of loneliness, sorrow and repent. But footprints in the snow one fine morning changes his life forever...the book is meant to be slow, taking the reader through all the emotions of cold biting winter and cold biting remembra ...more
Steven Langdon
Henning Mankell has written some amazing books -- his Kurt Wallander mystery stories about a Swedish policeman are superb, and recently he has also written interesting books set in whole or part in Africa (such as "The Eye of the Leopard.) "Italian Shoes" is a much different work. It is set mainly in an isolated coastal area of Northern Sweden, is not an action or mystery novel, and recounts the late-life changes that hit a grim and self-punishing Swedish doctor who has turned himself into a nea ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Livia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: henning-mankell
This novel is a little different to the well-known Wallander series. It focuses on a retired surgeon who left his profession in disgrace and lives alone on a small island in the Stockholm archipelago. His heart is as frozen as the Baltic waters in winter and he believes that the rest of his life will be lived out in this way. However, all this changes when his former lover, a woman whom he had abandoned many years previously, turns up unexpectedly on the island to demand that he fulfills a promi ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In medicine, a mistake, is often irreversible and lives are changed forever. One day you are a then, do you end up on a island in a house where an anthill occupies one of the bedrooms? This is a beautifully written, intriguingly, unpredictable story with an eclectic cast of characters.

A story of self-isolation and loneliness abruptly ends when a figure from his past finds Fredrik on his island. Life as it was is no more. One change leads to another and his life will never be the
Apr 23, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ITALIAN SHOES OK, I admit, I read it in translation. This is not one of Mankell's mysteries so maybe, just maybe, his fans won't be interested. But that would be a mistake. A wonderful story of a retired doctor living a solitary existence on a remote Swedish island, who thinks he has removed himself from life, when an old woman appears on the ice pushing a walker. Suddenly, and very unexpectedly, he now has a family. One of the finest looks at aging and family I've come across in a long time. Th ...more
Aug 28, 2016 Birgit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Korte inhoud:

Fredrik Welin woont op een eiland, helemaal alleen samen met zijn hond en kat. Op een dag staat er een vrouw met een rollator op het ijs. Ze is Harriet, die hij vroeger verlaten heeft en ze is doodziek. Ze wil het vennetje zien dat hij haar toen beloofd had om te gaan bezichtigen. En dan gaat de bal aan het rollen.


Italiaanse schoenen gaat over een zonderlinge man, die zich teruggetrokken heeft op een eiland na een professionele fout. Zoveel jaar geleden heeft hij Harriet in d
A strange and melancholic story of a man hiding away from life on his lonely island. It made me quite sad and I don't really know what to think about it. I think Mankell wanted to write about a charmless man in his late sixties who finally gets his comeuppance, so to speak. Life catches up with him, his first love he once abandoned without a single word of explanation, a daughter he never knew existed, a woman he mutilated during a surgery years before - Fredrik Welin used to be a surgeon and by ...more
Maria João Fernandes
"Vivia sozinho naquela ilha há doze anos. Agora era como se a ilha tivesse sido invadida por três mulheres."

Fredrik Welin tem 66 anos e é o único habitante de uma ilha do Báltico. Há 12 anos que vive isolado da sociedade, tendo como companhia o seu cão, a sua gata e uma comunidade de formigas que se apoderaram de um cantinho na sua sala de estar.
O único contacto humano que tem é com o carteiro, Jansson, a quem proibiu de trazer publicidade. O antigo cirurgião não gosta muito do homem, mas é ele
Oct 22, 2014 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e5, n-suecia
É um livro que me tocou, que me fez pensar. É um livro que fala de velhos, de jovens, de vida, de morte e de como cada um escolhe a melhor forma de viver a sua vida.
É um grande romance sobre pessoas. Pessoas tão diferentes e especiais que, aparentemente, só existem em ficção. No entanto, ao chegar ao fim do livro fiquei com a sensação de ter estado a conviver com pessoas reais, com as quais ri, chorei e de quem já tenho saudades.
Está muito bem escrito. É um livro pequeno, de leitura fluida e sim
Mar 04, 2010 Pattie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Plot: not much
Likable hero: not really
Ends tied up by end of book: only sort of

And yet Mankell is such a good writer that it still holds the interest.

My only complaint is that the first person narrator keeps describing how he "let the dog out" or "let the cat out" and I am distracted, wondering if he's going to let them in again, or leave them out there to freeze (given that some wild animals freeze to death on his cold, northern island).
Neena Friedman
Och den första bok av Henning Mankell jag läst tillika. Jag blir inte jättesugen på att läsa fler.
Italienska skor vill så mycket, den vill så _väl_ men allt blir tillkämpat. Jag köper ingen av Mankells krystade excentriker.
Värst av allt är den eländiga myrstacken vår huvudperson har i sitt vardagsrum, som växer upp över bordet. Han stänger dörren bara, som lite övertydlig symbolik över hur han låter sina problem växa bakom stängda dörrar. Hu.

"Jag skrev till både Louise och Har
Melina Bacher
Jan 11, 2016 Melina Bacher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Während dem Lesen des Buches habe ich mich die ganze Zeit gefragt: Warum der Titel "Die italienischen Schuhe"? Bis zum Schluss gibt es praktisch keinen Spoiler für den Titel.
Auch nach dem Beenden des Buches habe ich lange über den Titel, aber auch über die Geschichte und das Leben selbst nachgedacht. Vielleicht ist es gerade das, was mich das Buch so lieben lässt. Die Anregung über das (eigene?) Leben nachzudenken, darüber was man erlebt oder nicht erlebt hat, und warum das Schicksal diese oder
Mar 30, 2014 Farrah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was such a weird book. Felt very meandering and pointless and strangely plotted but like the kind of book that you could picture some really highbrow literary person saying was sooooooo amazing and had all these hidden themes and meanings but an average reader ( like me) would be totally baffled by...
Laroy Viviane
Jun 12, 2016 Laroy Viviane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mankell, un maître du policier?

Ici, il n'est en aucun cas question d'un policier classique avec un crime dont il faut découvrir le coupable. Nous sommes face à un roman initiatique racontant l'histoire d'un homme qui s'est emmuré dans sa solitude et qui en a même oublié les raisons.

Une île et le froid, la glace et le feu nous rappellent les ambiances nordiques exacerbant les maux de vivre qui créent des dilemmes en nous : la peur de l'amour et de la mort, les regrets et les promesses, le désir
Javi Fornell
Feb 27, 2016 Javi Fornell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zapatos Italianos nos muestra al Mankell más íntimo, que deja de lado el género policíaco donde es el gran maestro, para mostrar que también puede mantener al lector pegado a las páginas cuando se aleja del crimen y se adentra en la vida. La visión pesimista que acompaña todas sus obras vuelve a aparecer aquí, con una salvedad: No es ya Suecia la que está cambiando. Wellin nos representa un poco a todos, la humanidad que se ha estancado a la puerta de su casa, escribiendo un diario que no cuenta ...more
Jan 02, 2012 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scandinavia
Well, not so much liked as admired. Mankell is a master of bleak and empty, and this is one of those books. Perfect for a grey, blustery January day, if you are a bit of a masochist. Or for a black and white Ingmar Bergman film is such things were still possible.

Welin is a 66 year old surgeon who cut off a young woman's healthy arm by mistake and has retired to an empty island left him by his grandparents, where he has spent 12 years with a crippled old dog, an elderly cat and a giant anthill fo
Kathleen Hagen
Italian Shoes, by Henning Mankell, A. narrated by Henry Strozier, produced by recorded Books, downloaded from

Henry Welin was a retired surgeon who lived on a deserted island in Sweden. He retired from medicine twelve years earlier after he had made an astronomical mistake during a surgery. He hid himself away from the world in exile. Then one day, in the middle of the winter, he heard the sound of a hydrocopter coming from the mainland. When he looked out, someone was laying on the
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Henning Mankell was an internationally known Swedish crime writer, children's author and playwright. He was best known for his literary character Kurt Wallander.

Mankell split his time between Sweden and Mozambique. He was married to Eva Bergman, Swedish director and daughter of Ingmar Bergman.
More about Henning Mankell...

Other Books in the Series

Fredrik Welin series (2 books)
  • Zweedse laarzen

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“It was a clear, starry night, dead calm. Whenever I see a sky
like that, I wish I could write music”
“We’re always being made promises,’ she said. ‘You make them yourself
and you listen to others giving theirs. Politicians are always going
on about providing a better quality of life for people as they get older,
and a health service in which nobody ever gets bedsores. Banks promise
you high interest rates, some food promises to make you lose weight if
you eat it, and body creams guarantee old age with fewer wrinkles. Life
is quite simply a matter of cruising along in your own little boat through
a constantly changing but never-ending stream of promises. And how
many do we remember? We forget the ones we would like to remember,
and we remember the ones we’d prefer to forget.”
More quotes…