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November (SECOND DATE) - World Book #11 - Smilla's Sense of Snow, by Peter Hoeg

In many recent book club meetings, people have voiced interest in reading a Scandinavian thriller on our trip around the world.  November's book is an international best seller written by Danish author Peter Hoeg, and will hopefully give us a glimpse into the world of mystery/thrillers coming out of that region of the world.


Smilla Jaspersen, half Danish, half Greenlander, attempts to understand the death of a small boy who falls from the roof of her apartment building. Her childhood in Greenland gives her an appreciation for the complex structures of snow, and when she notices that the boy's footprints show he ran to his death, she decides to find out who was chasing him. As she attempts to solve the mystery, she uncovers a series of conspiracies and cover-ups and quickly realizes that she can trust nobody. Her investigation takes her from the streets of Copenhagen to an icebound island off the coast of Greenland. What she finds there has implications far beyond the death of a single child. The unusual setting, gripping plot, and compelling central character add up to one of the most fascinating and literate thrillers of recent years.

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  • JSeguritan

    Great discussion all! It seemed to me that most criticisms were largely structural--plausibility of the essential plot, all-too-convenient revelations & plot turns, awkward transitions & unwieldy plot details. The underlying mystery admittedly held my attention, and I was one to appreciate Smilla's narrative voice. Set in motion by Isaiah's death, Smilla had to negotiate her preferably aloof & rational nature with the reluctant need to form personal attachments both old (her father) and new (the mechanic). Her philosophical insights are provocative as are her observational quips:"I don't fall in love anymore. Just like I don't get the mumps.” Not often have I seen snow/ice imagery so reiterated to invoke psychological terrain, nuances of social contact, Platonic forms and nature’s relationship to society & technology. A deeper access to Smilla’s backstory would have been welcomed, as even Smilla admits “the countless miles children have put behind them in search of a decent life.”

    November 6, 2013

  • Kate K.

    So sorry to cancel at the last minute! I'm not feeling well and don't think I can make it.

    November 6, 2013

  • JSeguritan

    "I’ve never been seriously interested in books that aren’t reference books. I’ve never claimed to be particularly cultured. On the other hand, I’ve always thought that it’s never too late to start a new life of learning." --Smilla, pg 290

    Looking forward to tonight's discussion! I often take extensive notes as I read, usually including many relevant passages / quotes that draw on the novel's major themes, or even just any I read that sounds "interesting". I've uploaded these notes in the "Files" section of the group page in case any of you are interested in refreshing yourselves in some of the novel's highlights. Feel free to check them out!


    1 · November 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I thought I would get the reading completed by today, but I simply did not get the chance to. I will plan more carefully. Sorry for the last minute notice.

    November 6, 2013

  • JSeguritan

    I'm new at this - does the waitlist preclude someone from wanting to attend? Wasn't sure if there were space / capacity constraints at the venue, or simply keeping the discussion in "small-group" mode.

    November 5, 2013

    • Deepa Z.

      Hi J - I limit the group size to try to foster a better discussion. I've found that with more than 15 people, the table is too big for people to hear (sometimes it's hard with 15!). However, we very rarely have meetups where people don't have to drop out last minute, and because of that, people on the waitlist almost always get off the waitlist by the day of the meetup. Further, because we almost always have no-shows, I encourage anyone who is in the top 3 people on a waitlist to just come anyway. I won't kick you out - worst case scenario, we'll just divide into two smaller discussion groups. Hope that helps!

      November 5, 2013

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