Cool

Julian Loose

  • Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg, translated by F. David
    Harvill, 412 pp, £9.99, September 1993, ISBN 0 00 271334 9

Thrillers are routinely deemed ‘chilling’, as though our feelings of fear and cold are in some way interchangeable. Yet outlandishly low temperatures alone cannot account for the tremendous success of Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, even if it does open with a bleak Copenhagen December, and go on to describe a still colder place – Greenland, covered by an icecap up to a mile thick, with a climate so severe that if you need to drop your trousers to relieve yourself, you must first light a Primus stove under a blanket to prevent instant frost-bite. Miss Smilla differs from other chilly bestsellers like Ice Station Zebra not least in its celebration of this apparently cruel setting, its infectious sense of ‘snow’s mysterious warmth’.

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