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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

on 17 December 2003
Most people understand implicitly why someone may love Italy,or France, or India, say.But someone who goes to Greenland, not just once but again and again and again, not because they have to but because they want to , is a much rarer commodity. Gretel Ehrlich is such a person.And in her criss-crossings of Greenland, in all weathers-usually cold!-she meets other such people.Danes who are disenchanted with the rat-race and want a cleaner, purer environment for themselves and their children. A Japanese who came thirty or so years ago and just didn't want to leave. What is so compelling ? The strangeness and near-pristine nature of the landscape itself. The nature of the Inuit lifestyle, basic at times, but bound up with nature , very rich in stories, very authentic. And to be in a place where, even now, watches and clocks don't matter very much and where television is an occasional and rather surreal experience. Ehrlich weaves a spell with her writing-alternately lyrical and prosaic. Maybe in the end she doesn't even know herself quite why she keeps going back. . .she just does.Greenland speaks to some inner need.
I'd give this 5 stars were it not for the over-lengthy text, which could have done with some editing without ruining the flavour.
A particularly attractive feature is the way Ehrlich intersperses her own experiences of Greenland with those of Knud Rasmussen, who travelled to Greenland in the Twenties and whose ethnological research into the Inuit lifestyle has stood the test of time.
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on 6 November 2003
Having never heard of Gretel Ehrlich I came to this book without any idea of the author's past experiences. The book is incredibly intense. The first half of the book is more difficult to read that the second half. The author alludes to personal trauma and a need to confront her own fears but does so in a disjointed style. Her musing about the effects of total darkness and the climate made me wonder exactly what she was trying to say. Better editing in this section might help. What made me persist was my need to find out more about Greenland and its Inuit people as well as to try and understand what made Ehrlich keep going back. At times I wondered if she was hoping to die out on the ice. There is a deep sadness in the author during this time that is reflected in discriptions of the effect of modernisation and outsider intervention in the lives of the indigenous people. Throughout the book she is always living on the edge of the society unable to find a way in. The lonely curious outsider. Her usage of Rasmussen as a guide to many different facets of the history and exploration of Greenland, and the American Artic improves over time. His travels and travails seem to have been a large part of her inspiration during the trips to Greenland.
An unusual book that is worth the effort it takes to read it.
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on 6 February 2002
This Cold Heaven is a passionately written story by an adventuress women. The land that the author so poigantly evokes is breathtaking, and with glimpses at each chapter of the strikingly beautiful cover photo the reader can somehow feel part of the story as they follow her journey with the Greenland Inuit.
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