La Petite Américaine's Reviews > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
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Nov 16, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: kicked_ass, guilty-pleasures
Recommended for: Nicole / Mystery Buffs / Summer Readers
Read in June, 2008

**Dude, I just watched the Swedish film "När mörkret faller" (When Darkness Falls), a crappy movie about violence in Stockholm. But it made me think back to this book, which constantly refers to stats about violence against women in Sweden. Something is seriously up in Sweden. Gives me the creeps even more than Swtizerland.**

Wow. 500+ pages and entertaining right up to the last sentence? Lingers in the mind long after the book is finished? Geez. I didn't think it could be done in today's fiction world, except books for the morons who feel the need to "research" The da Vinci Code. Time to create a new shelf for this one, entitled: kicked ass.

There are several mysteries going on in this novel, from the strange disappearance of a young girl decades ago, to financial scandals in the curious backdrop of Sweden. Definitely original. The characters are fascinating and the story, engrossing.

The book gets four stars for keeping me massively entertained for the better part of the week, but it loses a star for some small issues that drove me so nuts that they are worth mentioning:

1) All financial terms are reported in the Swedish kroner, which is fair considering that it's a Swedish book. However, the translator could have at least added the equivalent of Euros or Pounds or Dollars so that the majority of readers -- that is, people not familiar with the value of the Swedish currency -- don't have to go on to try to figure out just how much money we're talking about.

2) Uhhhh ... can we have an American translation, please? I TEACH ESL FROM BRITISH TEXTBOOKS, AND I STILL HAD TO TEXT MY BRITISH FRIEND AND ASK FOR DEFINITIONS. One word: Haberdashery? FABRIC STORE!!! Yeah.

3) The family tree in the first few pages helps, but the character names and places are so close that they're endlessly confusing if you're not Swedish: Henrik, Harold (who live in Hedeby near Hedestad, by the way), Harriet, Berger the lover and Birger the crazy relative, Gustav, Gregor, Gerda, Gottfried .... ARHGHG. Drove me nuts!

4) The codes in Harriet's notebook and the mystery of why Cecilia Vanger appears in every photograph = predictable. That being said, the rest of the book is such a nightmare explosion of "who the hell saw that coming?!" that it makes up for it.

5) "Left-wing media liberal" + "socialist/communist" Swedish dude (just quoting FOX News here) = our author, who saturates the novel with his politics. I'm a liberal, so I don't care, but when characters become the mouthpiece for your political views, you lose creativity points with me.

On the whole? A great guilty-please/summer-read. Kicked ass for the most part. Read it! :)
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Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

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message 1: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Aww ... LOVE :)

La Petite Américaine It just really scares me. Places like Switzerland or Austria, where everything is perfect on the outside, but aside from this manicured lawns and those little gingerbread houses, there's complete internal chaos. Apparently Sweden is the same way. Gives me shivers a-là Stepford Wives.

message 3: by Manny (new) - added it

Well... I haven't lived in Sweden for a while (moved in 1991), but I don't think it's true that violence against women is more widespread there. Rather, I would say that because it's a very gender-equal country, women are not as afraid to speak up, so you hear more about it.

When we lived there in the 80s, levels of violence against women were definitely far lower than in England. We had to explain carefully to our English au pairs that yes, it was actually quite safe to walk around alone at night. They would never believe us at first, but after they'd been there for a while and had a chance to gather more information, they would admit we were right.

La Petite Américaine Very interesting insight. What the book and the film both imply is that the violence against women goes swept under the carpet, and that there's been an increase of unreported violence in the last ten years. Which creeped me out because you always hear that Sweden is so safe.

message 5: by Fred (new)

Fred Guys, keep in mind that this is a fictional work, and the Author has never implied that it is representative of the situation in Sweden. Nor is he an expert in the field. Just like the da Vinci code, people let themselves get carried away by fictional works without even looking at the facts.

message 6: by La Petite Américaine (last edited May 23, 2009 03:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

La Petite Américaine Commenting about statistics on violence against women in Sweden which were sited in a book of fiction is slightly different than thinking Christ had a kid with Mary Magdalene whose descendent now resides in Paris. Here, have some facts:

La Petite Américaine sigh ... why do they all come to me?

message 8: by Fred (new)

Fred Fine, there is violence in Sweden too. Now lets compare it to the United States. In the USA, 4.8 Million women are assaulted by their own partners. It hardly makes the 26,857 Swedish cases look all that bad. We have violence against women in all countries, but Sweden is not even close to the worst.

message 9: by Fred (new)

Fred By the way, if you don't care to do the math, the US has approximately 60 times the population of Sweden, but 178 times the cases of abuse. Here is your link:

La Petite Américaine When did this become a comparison between the USA and Sweden?

message 11: by Fred (new)

Fred Well, when you say something is high or low, you have to compare it to something else.

La Petite Américaine Ridiculous argument that has nothing to do with the book / the review / the previous posts in the thread.

Wendy I agree! Sweden IS creepy (at least that is the conclusion I have arrived at having read two Swedish novels). Have you read Let the Right One In? Ugh.

La Petite Américaine No, I haven't, but I'll put it on my to-read list.

message 15: by Maria (new)

Maria Being a Swede, I can ssure you that Sweden is no creepier than anywhere else. Imagine how waful Maine would be if you based your opinion/view on Steven King novels. Go visit in summer and enjoy!

Nicole I just ordered this book and the next of his on Amazon. I can't believe you LOVED IT! I ordered it without checking with you and I'm so flipping excited that you liked it! I'll report back after I finish. May take a while because I"m reading like 15 books right now :)

La Petite Américaine Warning: starts slow.

I didn't like the second one at all. I mean, I read it and was entertained by it, but I rolled my eyes the whole time.

Marte Patel Sweden is a very safe place to live compared with most other countries in the world. Still, a crime writer has to write about something!

A good website if you ever want to look up an English word: Saves you texting your British friend and you'll learn some new words, too. A haberdashery is not exactly a fabric store, it also sells knitting needles, yarn, and other equipment you need for sewing and related activities. I think it's a wonderful word! :-)

Gaynel You didn't know what a haberdashery was?

Erica These were my words:
p 227 exiguous (scanty, meager, small)
p 572 delphic (oracular, obscure, ambiguous; my dictionary capitalizes this word. I really think of oracular as a lot less obscure than obscure.)

My mom's:
gallimaufry - a hodgepodge, a medley.

Let me just say, translating must really be a hard job.

Goldenwattle “2) Uhhhh ... can we have an American translation, please? I TEACH ESL FROM BRITISH TEXTBOOKS, AND I STILL HAD TO TEXT MY BRITISH FRIEND AND ASK FOR DEFINITIONS. One word: Haberdashery? FABRIC STORE!!! Yeah.”

Much of the English speaking world has/manages to live with novels in American-English and the peculiarities in spelling, because - so I am told - Americans have difficulties understanding English-English. Therefore an English novel will be ‘translated’ into American. This then perpetuates US citizens’ lack of familiarity with English words and spelling from beyond its borders, as the quote above demonstrates. If a novel comes from America I would expect the novel to have American spellings, but if it comes from elsewhere in the English speaking world it should have the local English version, which except for a few local words which add colour, will probably be the English version of English. This book is a translation to English from Swedish, so it could be argued that an American version is as authentic as an English version. But why should the English version be a problem? Why do words and spelling have to be American versions as is so often done? As an Australian it was a pleasure for a change to read a novel with English spellings. Books coming from America are not ‘translated’ for us, but English books are likely to be translated for the US. This is insulting to the story’s origins, but also I don’t know why US citizens don’t take offence too. It makes a statement that they are incapable of reading anything that has not been made easy for them. It makes Americans insular. This was highlighted once with a trip to Norway. I went sightseeing with an American and some Swedish tourists. The Swedish tourists could not understand what the American said because of the American slang she used. Sadly, through lack of exposure to other English she was unaware of this. She would say something and the Swedish tourists would look at me to repeat it in English without slang words. At the end of our day of sightseeing the American tourist said that it was so nice to have someone who understood her, so obviously this was not the only time during her travels she had problems.

Haberdashery is used in Australia, but is not commonly in everyday use. The only place it might be seen in is lifts (elevators to Americans) and on department store direction notice boards. According to Wikipedia, haberdashery is of Scandinavian origin.

Erica I would agree that we should all strive to be understood. I would like to add that anyone who is teaching ESL really ought to have a dictionary. is quite convenient. There will always be a word you don't know (see recent words for the students in the American national spelling bee).

I think it's fun to stumble across rare words, but I do like them to fit in their contexts.

Katherine Haberdashery was in very common usage when I grew up in NYC ( 1940's-1950's ) because men wore hats--fedoras primarily --which needed blocking and cleaning. The haberdashery, which also sold ties and men's socks along with hats, was where one went for those services. There was a haberdashery across from my apt bldg on 22nd and 8th in Manhattan.

Rachel Campo Really not trying to be snarky, but the fact that more of these books are sold in America than other countries would

Hayley Heaven forbid an American has to read an English translation - how horrible it must have been for you.

Now you know how the rest of the world feels when almost EVERYTHING else is in American English.

La Petite Américaine It was traumatizing, actually.

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