Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Italian Shoes” as Want to Read:
Italian Shoes
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Italian Shoes

(Fredrik Welin series #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  5,569 Ratings  ·  689 Reviews
From the prizewinning “master of atmosphere” (Boston Globe) comes the surprising and affecting story of a man well past middle age who suddenly finds himself on the threshold of renewal.

Living on a tiny island entirely surrounded by ice during the long winter months, Fredrik Welin is so lost to the world that he cuts a hole in the ice every morning and lowers himself into
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published March 10th 2009 by The New Press (first published 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
João Carlos

Floresta - Suécia

Update - 26-02-2017

O sueco Henning Mankell (1945 - 2015) é um dos meus escritores preferidos, 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 foi 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”, colocaram-no na vertente pessoal,
Roderick Hart
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 23, 2016 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
Cheryl Bradley
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 20, 2012 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
BREAKING NEWS JAN 2011: Brannagh and Hopkins are filming this book.

Product Description
Once a successful surgeon, Frederick Welin now lives in self-imposed exile on an island in the Swedish archipelago. Nearly twelve years have passed since he was disgraced for attempting to cover up a tragic mishap on the operating table. One morning in the depths of winter, he sees a hunched figure struggling towards him across the ice. His past is about to catch up with him. The figure approaching in the freez
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
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...
Paul Patterson
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Virgil Larson
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
ITALIAN SHOES. (2006; trans. 2009). Henning Mankell. ****1/2.
I stumbled across this book in a used-book store, not knowing what it was about. First off, it is not a book in the author’s famous Kurt Wallander series of detective novels. It is, however, one of the finest novels that I have ever read. It is a tale about a surgeon and his efforts to forget a mistake he made years ago in his practice. In order to facilitate this, he has moved to a remote island off of mainland Sweden, and lives with
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fredrik Welin has been living on a small rocky Swedish island with no houses in sight. He retreated from the world twelve years ago after making a terrible mistake as a surgeon. Then Harriet, a lover he abandoned years ago, shows up at his island asking Fredrik to keep an old promise to take her to a special forest pool. From that beginning, a series of other connections begins.

The book is a psychological study where Fredrik attempts to redeem himself for past mistakes. The other characters also
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Helena (Renchi King)
Uopće nije loše..tri zvjezdice zbog toga što sam dobila ono što nisam očekivala:))
Ovo nije nikakav krimi ili napeti triler.
Priča o usamljenosti,potrazi za smislom u životu,pronalasku obitelji,starosti,bolesti i konačno,o završetku životnog ciklusa ,na udaljenom švedskom otoku ,sa tek pokojim stanovnikom...
Monika Havlasová
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Komorní drama s hlavními hrdiny na konci svého života. Pro mě hodně překvapivé. Líbilo, ale k Fredrikovi jsem si hledala cestu celou knihu :)
David Highton
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A disgraced former doctor living a lonely life on a small island, frozen in winter, finds an appearance by former girlfriend from 40 years earlier begins to change his life. Very well written, moving story with real depth.
Scherry Siganporia
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 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
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 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ITALIAN SHOES by Henning Mankell goes to prove, once again, that a really good writer is a really good writer, regardless of the genre, styling, or setting of the book. Exploring the themes of estrangement, loss, fear and isolation ITALIAN SHOES isn't a crime fiction novel, it's a poignant, beautiful, sad, uplifting and evocative look at a man, his life, his mistakes and his redemption.

Frederick Welin is sixty-six years old, a former surgeon who has spent the last 12 years of his life, purposely
Steven Langdon
May 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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 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
Juist op tijd uitgelezen voor de bespreking in de bib leesclub vanavond. En raar maar waar, deze keer was ik diegene met de meeste bedenkingen (niet zoveel, maar voldoende om vanochtend 3 sterren te geven).
Een boek met primeurs: de eerste Mankell, maar ook het eerste boek waarvan ik de achterflap niet gelezen had en dus heel grote verrassing. :-)
Pro: Zeer vlot geschreven, prachtige beschrijvingen van het eiland, de weersomstandigheden, het ijs en de koude. Geloofwaardige en krachtige personages
Jul 30, 2016 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
Mr. Gottshalk
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any five-star book is worth reading again, and this one certainly is. Full disclosure: if you're looking for a sunny book about rainbows, fluff and feathers, you've come to the wrong place. Mankell's writing is raw, real and leaves you thinking about yourself. In this well-written story, a retired surgeon, living alone on his own rocky island, is forced to confront his girlfriend from 50 years ago when she suddenly shows up unannounced, and from that point on, the man's life changes indefinitely ...more
Alfredo Carrera
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Novela sobre la soledad, la supervivencia y la soberbia de algunas personas disfraza de carácter duro. Es un largo recorrido por un año de vida de un adulto mayor que tiene la posibilidad de recuperar algo de su vida, de la vida que siempre se negó a tener. Un golpe para las personas que se sienten muy seguras de sus decisiones.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Never End (Inspector Winter, #4)
  • En helt annan historia (Barbarotti #2)
  • Cop Killer (Martin Beck, #9)
  • Summer Death
  • Shadow
  • Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End (Fall of the Welfare State, #1)
  • Blackwater
  • Outrage (Inspector Erlendur #9)
  • The Hand That Trembles
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.

Other books in the series

Fredrik Welin series (2 books)
  • Zweedse laarzen
“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…