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The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in Lapland
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The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in Lapland

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A Frequent traveler to Northern Europe, Barbara Sjoholm set off one winter to explore a region that had long intrigued her.

Sjoholm first travels to Kiruna, Sweden, to see the Ice Hotel under construction and to meet the ice artists who make its rooms into environmental art. Traveling to the North Cape, she encounters increasing darkness and cold, but also radiant light ove
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 28th 2007 by Counterpoint
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Randy Nelson
A very thoughtful,personal travel book both subjective and descriptive of Kiruna and Jukkasjarvi and beyond.. It inspired my own journey to Lapland which I completed last week, 2 years after reading the book.
Ashley Lauren
I picked this memoir off the shelf at Half Price books with high hopes - it was a memoir of a woman traveling alone (my serious book weakness) AND it was about the far north and focused on the indigenous people of the area there, the Sami. I have Sami ancestry and have learned many things from my grandmother about her relatives and thought this was the perfect mix. I realized only halfway through this book that Sjoholm also wrote Incognito Street: How Travel Made Me a Writer - a fantastic memoir ...more
Lucy Pollard-Gott
Author Barbara Sjoholm makes her winter travels in Lapland personal from her first pages, where she confides her deep sadness and restlessness after a breakup with her long-term partner. These two emotions propelled her to undertake a difficult journey north, first to Kiruna, Sweden, and nearby Jukkasjärvi, the site of the famed Icehotel. In the end, she will describe three trips to Lapland, or Sápmi, inhabited by the Sami people, lands which stretch across the northern portions of Norway, Swede ...more
Not sure why I read so many travel memoirs when really what I would love are actual memoirs and histories of the folks encountered by the author (or is that the point of good travel writing, to make us want that?). Beautifully tied in to my second favorite Hans Anderson story ever, so there's that. Mostly though I felt a little...distanced.
While the beginning seemed quite promising, and her writing is good, certain sections tend to go on for too long and lose the reader's interest. Towards the end I found myself skimming a bit. However, I found this highly fascinating, as I have long had an interest in Lapland. I enjoyed her descriptions of snow and cold.
Interesting descriptions of Sweden's Ice Hotel and life above the Artic Circle in winter. Some parts are dull
Wonderful book if you are fascinated with cold climates (as I seem to be increasingly - and oddly as I really hate to be cold!) Sjoholm finds herself, in the midst of a personal crisis, spending time at the IceHotel in northern Sweden. She is drawn back several times as her interest in the Sami deepens. Sjoholm has the advantage of speaking Norwegian and - seemingly - at least understanding Swedish. She thoughtfully explores the conflicts between touristic businesses and the raindeer-herding Sam ...more
Barbara Sjoholm tours the European countries of the Arctic Circle in the peak of darkness. She visits the Icehotel, sees MacBeth in an Ice theater, makes a dog sled trip, tours an iron mine and meets Santa Claus at his home. This book is much richer than these travelogs because Sjoholm shares her sensitivity to the indigenous people of the area, the Sami.

The narrative is symmetrical, starting and with Icehotel construction and an introduction to Sami lore and ending with the melting of the Iceho
Nov 25, 2012 Abby rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: dnf, travel
I had to renew this one twice from the library. While I love travel writing, this one just didn't grab me. I kept getting confused as to why the author was there and when she was there. Many trips to the north are referenced and it's often difficult to tell if something happened before, during or after the moment she's narrating.

One thing I learned, though, was the struggle of the Sami (indigenous people of Lapland). They are going through similar struggles as the many of the indigenous people o
This book was almost more of a critical discussion of the politics of the Sami in Scandinavia and the treatment of indigenous peoples than a travelogue. Also, I could tell with a few of the chapters that they had been written separately and then incorporated into the book as some of the information was repeated. The beginning was a little hard to get through since the author was dealing with a recent breakup and her sadness came through in the writing, but I am glad I stuck with it since it real ...more
I know nothing about Nordic history, so I figured a travelogue would be a good way to go about it. Sjoholm is a good travelogue writer and also brings in some interesting modern-day experiences – the Ice Hotel, dog sledding, etc. But what I didn’t realize but becomes more and more blatant is that Sjoholm’s main focus is not the countries themselves but the Sami people (the native people of the area). Sami people and their rights is Sjoholm’s passion. And it is definitely interesting to learn abo ...more
I definitely toyed with the idea of 4 stars here, but settled for 3. I really enjoy travel books that are written by people it seems I would like to sit and share a meal or a train car with, and if they are traveling somewhere that fascinates me, so much the better. Info about the Sami culture and history was strewn throughout the book, and I found the parts that explored the ways that tourism has affected the Sami and the way that they choose to use tourism for their own good to be particularly ...more
This is a fascinating book. The authors takes a tour through Lappland during the winter months. She give a history of the area and people -- culture, mythology. She also covers the schizm between the Saami people and the ruling governments (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia). The Saami, like most indigenous peoples, become non-entities with no rights. However, where she really shines is in her description of the cold and dark. Her descriptions are beautiful and palpable. So beautiful. This is a fi ...more
Susan Morris
The Palace Of The Snow Queen is a travel memoir. Barbara Sjoholm escaped to Scandinavia one winter to grieve the end of a relationship. She travels to Sweden, Finland, and Norway and on to the Sapmi lands of the far North. As she describes the deep cold and dark, the reader shivers and reaches for a blanket. Her narrative includes not just her experiences in the North, regional history and research, but an account of how the experienced transformed her. Her understanding of the Sami people of th ...more
Soaked it up. Sjoholm turns her keen eye on this intriguing and wildly enchanting world (and the diverse people who live there).
I loved this book! Didn't want it to end. It is not only a page-turning "solo woman traveler" adventure story, it includes fascinating history and important insights into tourism, the authenticity-versus-evolving nature question of indigenous art (duodji and joik), and the political pluralism among the emerging indigenous rights movement in Sapmi. I've ordered all of Sjoholm's books from the library and am plowing through them. Good stuff.
May 05, 2008 Sally rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Steve Linder
This author writes well although occasionally her prose and her account of her personal story impedes my enjoyment of the truly compelling subject matter of Lapland. She begins with an account of her visit to the IceHotel and then takes you through her discovery of the Sami culture and the Sami's political concerns. Her descriptions of the cold and ice, and the dramatic northern environment, is very enjoyable. I highly recommend this book.
It was fun to read about life in the far north during the summer! It's great that the writer had the time and connections and language skills to get to know various locals and learn about the some of the history and the complex land use issues in the region. But she seemed unnecessarily harsh to other tourists who came to appreciate the area and weren't inclined or weren't able to engage as deeply.
2008- Learned quite a bit about the Sami, the indigenous people of northern Europe, from this book, which was a nice surprise. Was disappointed the author did not touch more on Norway and Finland, I felt like most of the book was concentrated on Sweden. I also found the author to be a tad annoying after a while. Still, an interesting travel read on an area that is not often written about.
I am not usually one prone to read a travelogue - but this was absolutely marvelous. Talk about arm chair traveling - to a very fascinating place - and to meet the last nomadic people of Europe the Sami (also know as Lapplanders). Living in the Artic Circle is not for me - however I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ms. Sjoholm's account of travelling there!
This book started off really good for me and then I just got bored. However, for the time I was into it, I learned a lot about the Sami people and northern Scandinavia. Considering I'm not all that interested in the far north (I had mainly picked it up because of the author), I think that's pretty good.
Christie Purifoy
Magical and intellectual. A beautiful travel memoir that doesn't shy away from the hard questions. Honestly explores the intersection of tourism and indigenous culture, acknowledging our desire to encounter the exotic while facing the problems inherent in that desire.
Darcie Kileen
OK, but I didn't quite finish. Summary: she was sad and wrote in her journal a lot, and thought a lot about how sad it was to be writing in a journal when she was so sad. Also, it was very cold. Bleak. Cold. So sad and cold. The End.
I was nice to read a travel book that wasn't to Italy or France for a change. What interested me the most was the construction of the Icehotel in Sweden.
A thoughtful and wonderfully broad look at the world above the Arctic Circle, the people who inhabit it, and the undeniable power the icy, star-lit cold has on the few who look north and wonder.
Anna Raudenbush
Jun 26, 2008 Anna Raudenbush rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: snow-lovers, scanda-hoovs, people who dream of traveling but aren't ready yet.
Easy read, comforting, info about finnland and the Sami people. I love her description of the ice hotel, and her dog sledding adventures.
Paula Matuskey
Journalist escapes to Lapland to chronicle the building of the ice hotel--also tells of the cultures around the area.
A lovely and nuanced look at winter tourism and issues that lurk in the Lapland region.
I learned I never want to stay a night at the Ice Hotel, but it was an interesting book.
Sweden, Finland, Norway travel diary above the arctic circle
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The words of the Bible washed over me as a child, but I was somewhat dyslexic and couldn’t read until I was seven. At eight I decided to be a writer and have written all my life. I’ve also been, at different times, the co-founder of two publishing companies, Seal Press and Women in Translation, and a translator of Norwegian and Danish, as well as a freelance editor and teacher. My travels have oft ...more
More about Barbara Sjoholm...
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