Italian Shoes

  • by Henning Mankell
  • Narrated by Sean Barrett
  • 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 freezing cold is Harriet, the only woman he has ever loved, the woman he abandoned in order to go and study in America forty years earlier. She has sought him out in the hope that he will honour a promise made many years ago. Now in the late stages of a terminal illness, she wants to visit a small lake in northern Sweden, a place Welin's father took him once as a boy. He upholds his pledge and drives her to this beautiful pool hidden deep in the forest. On the journey through the desolate snow-covered landscape, Welin reflects on his impoverished childhood and the woman he later left behind.
However, once there Welin discovers that Harriet has left the biggest surprise until last.Italian Shoes is as compelling as it is disturbing. Through his anti-hero Welin, Mankell tackles ageing and death with sensitivity and acuity, and as with the critically acclaimed Depths, delivers a moving tour-de-force on the frailty of mankind.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An exceptional book...

After having finished reading Henning Mankell's novel "Depths" a few months ago, I felt strangely sad because I had the feeling that this exceptional book would probably be just a one-off by the Wallander author. However, with "Italian Shoes" Mankell did it again. Although about aging, sickness and death, this novel is extraordinarily positive and in parts even funny. The warmth of this introspective tale of an old man who gets finally confronted with a past he fled long ago is superbly enhanced by Sean Barrett?s powerful narration and, of course, Laurie Thompson?s excellent English translation. With "Italian Shoes", Mankell is once again on par with his Nordic peers Jostein Gaarder, Peter Hoeg or even Knut Hamsun. The Wallander books are by all means great but they have "branded" this author in such a way that "Depths" or "Italian Shoes" are quite unexpected -- which might lead to misunderstandings with readers who are just after a good crime read.
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- Rulf Neigenfind

A gentle walk in the park

This book is so different from the dark and brutal Inspector Wallander series of books it amazes me how it could be the same author. This book is like a slow walk in the park it meanders on without offense. It talks of the life of a retired surgeon who has hidden himself away on his ancestral island and how one decision he made many years before comes back and changes his life forever. Nothing especially happens in this book it is just a gentle tale of an old mans life and how new people enter it and change him forever. It end a little abruptly as I found in a previous Mankell Novel, leaving you with plenty of questions but it is not a bad thing.

The book has charm and if your looking for a gentle story that you can listen to with ease then give it a try.
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- Hannah

Book Details

  • Release Date: 15-12-2009
  • Publisher: Random House AudioBooks