Synopses & Reviews
Barbara Sjoholm's moving travel narrative takes readers on a personal journey through the icy landscape of Lapland.
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 over the mountains and snow fields. She crosses the Finnmark Plateau by dogsled, attends a Sami film festival (with an outdoor ice screen), and visits Santa's Post Office in Finland.
Over the course of three winters, Sjoholm unearths the region's rich history, including the culture of the Sami. As Sjoholm becomes more familiar with Kiruna, she writes of the changes occurring in northern Scandinavia and contemplates the tensions between tourism, the expansion of mining and development of the Ice Hotel, and age-old patterns of land use, the Sami's struggle to maintain their reindeer grazing lands and migration routes.
In The Palace of the Snow Queen, Sjoholm relates her adventures in the far north, and considers how ice and snow shape our imaginations and create, at a time of global warming, a vision that increasingly draws visitors to Lapland.
"This book is a thoroughly researched, funny, lively and yes warm book about what humans can discover and create in the cold. In addition to the reindeer herders, dog sledders and Santa workshop elves we might expect to find in such far northern climes, Barbara Sjoholm introduces us to ice sculptors, indigenous filmmakers, a teenage anthropologist and actors in a Sami language version of Macbeth, in other words, more varieties of Northern Lights than we ever imagined." Rebecca Brown
"The Palace of the Snow Queen
is an exquisite book. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Lapland in particular, or travel in general." Vendela Vida, author of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
"An enticing entree for those in search of extreme weather in a scenic clime." Kirkus Reviews
"This is the coldest I've ever been reading a book, but it was worth it. In three journeys to Lapland, Port Townsend author Barbara Sjoholm maintains a keen eye for observation, leaving romanticism behind, while still indulging in the swooning beauty of the far north." Seattle Times
About the Author
Barbara Sjoholm is the author of many books, including The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea, a finalist for the PEN USA award in creative nonfiction. Her essays and travel journalism have appeared in The American Scholar, The Antioch Review, The Harvard Review, The New York Times, Smithsonian
, and Slate
, among many other publications. As Barbara Wilson she is the author of Blue Windows: A Christian Science Childhood
, the winner of a Lambda Literary Award and a finalist for the PEN USA award. She is also the author of two mystery series, one of which, featuring the translator-sleuth, Cassandra Reilly, takes place abroad, in Spain, Italy, Romania, and other countries. Her Cassandra Reilly mystery, Gaudi Afternoon
, won the British Crime Writers Award for best crime novel set in Europe. It was made into a film starring Judy Davis and is set in Barcelona. As Barbara Wilson, she is also the translator of several books from Norwegian, including Cora Sandel: Selected Short Stories, which won a Columbia Translation Award.
Barbara co-founded Seal Press in 1976 with Rachel da Silva, and was an editor and publisher there for eighteen years. She also founded the imprint and later the publishing house, Women in Translation, which published fiction in translation by women from around the world. She lives in Port Townsend, Washington.