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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

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3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  116 Ratings  ·  31 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
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 28th 2007 by Counterpoint
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(showing 1-30 of 366)
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Randy Nelson
Feb 25, 2011 Randy Nelson rated it it was amazing
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
Emily
Jun 19, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, memoir, non-fiction
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.
Cherie
Jan 12, 2008 Cherie rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
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.
Evelyn
Sep 16, 2011 Evelyn rated it liked it
Interesting descriptions of Sweden's Ice Hotel and life above the Artic Circle in winter. Some parts are dull
Susan
Sep 18, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
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
Louise
May 05, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
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
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Abby
Nov 25, 2012 Abby rated it liked it
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
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Lauren
Jan 26, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it
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
Bonnie
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
Katrina Dreamer
Nov 07, 2015 Katrina Dreamer rated it really liked it
I've been interested in the far North since researching my Scandinavian roots several years ago and that is when I first learned about the Sami. I appreciated the research that went into the book and learned a good deal more about the struggles, history and the culture of the Sami from reading it.
I've been to Norway and Sweden and have high hopes of returning soon. This book has made me consider taking that trip in winter rather than summer.
Patricia
Oct 19, 2013 Patricia rated it liked it
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
Brigid
Feb 04, 2014 Brigid rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 15, 2009 Susan Morris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-loan
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
Rguillory
Apr 27, 2014 Rguillory rated it really liked it
Soaked it up. Sjoholm turns her keen eye on this intriguing and wildly enchanting world (and the diverse people who live there).
Hardeep
Apr 18, 2016 Hardeep rated it liked it
Neat to read about places we've visited and seen... Kiruna, jukkasarvi ice hotel, abisko, dog sledding and the northern lights. Wish we'd been able to see more!
Julie
Sep 20, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing
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.
Sally
May 05, 2008 Sally rated it really liked it
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.
Sara
Jul 24, 2011 Sara rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, library
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.
Tori
Jul 25, 2011 Tori rated it liked it
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.
Molly
Oct 31, 2011 Molly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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!
Monica
Oct 06, 2011 Monica rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
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
Feb 07, 2013 Christie Purifoy rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
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
Dec 02, 2011 Darcie Kileen rated it it was ok
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.
Caro
Sep 30, 2010 Caro rated it it was amazing
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 really liked it
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
Nov 27, 2010 Paula Matuskey rated it really liked it
Journalist escapes to Lapland to chronicle the building of the ice hotel--also tells of the cultures around the area.
Skye
May 23, 2015 Skye rated it really liked it
A lovely and nuanced look at winter tourism and issues that lurk in the Lapland region.
Paula
Oct 24, 2008 Paula rated it liked it
I learned I never want to stay a night at the Ice Hotel, but it was an interesting book.
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I’m a writer of memoir, mysteries, fiction, and travel books on Lapland and women and the sea (The Pirate Queen). My travel essays have appeared in Smithsonian, Slate, and American Scholar, as well as many other publications. I’m Irish and Swedish, but a translator of Norwegian and Danish. I’ve written under the names Barbara Wilson (my father’s adoptive name) and Barbara Sjoholm (which means sea
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