Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book Review: The Quiet Girl by Peter Høeg

The Quiet Girl - Peter Høeg

Kasper Krone is a circus clown famous on the international stage, and wanted by Danish authorities for tax evasion. Living in a caravan on a property dedicated to circus training and stables, Kasper is unique in that he also has a special gift regarding sound. He can ‘hear’ the musical keys that make up a person, instantly identifying whether they are a D-minor or A-flat major, and thus determining their personalities and intentions in an instant. He can also hear sounds that most ordinary people can’t pick up, and often compares them to great musical works, including those by his favourite composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
But despite his abilities, Kasper also has a deep gambling debt, and is on the verge of being extradited to Spain for his tax evasion.
It seems that Kasper’s life as he knows it is over, until he is recruited by a mysterious order of nuns, from the Rabia Institute, who want him to use his abilities to help them find two missing and extraordinary children who have been kidnapped. In return for his services, they promise him a reprieve from the international authorities, and thus Kasper decides to help.
But Kasper doesn’t realise the full extent of the children’s mystical abilities, or the true intentions of all involved. His determination to save young KlaraMaria, who he previously created a bond with, as well as the other child, means that he faces adversity from all angles, and rediscovers relationships with people from his past.
Kasper has to use all of his circus training, hearing abilities and wit to discover where the children are, and work out how to get them back to safety.

What I gained from reading this book:
This novel brings into question the different ‘gifts’ that some people reputedly have. Kasper’s ability to hear the musicality in people’s everyday lives makes him stand out from regular people and gives the book an artistic and even spiritual edge that wouldn’t ordinarily be present in a book of this genre.

The character of Kasper Krone is incredibly complex. Even though he is determined to save the children, he is also using the situation for his own gain, hoping to save himself from deportation. His interest in all of the people involved in the situation varies according to their usefulness to him, and his wit and cunning help him in circumstances when most people would ordinarily give up. These characteristics help to make the book so interesting to readers, as they wonder what he will do next.

I can’t fault the way that the book was written because the language that Høeg uses seems almost poetic at times, flowing like the classical music he loves to talk about so much. The methods that he uses in writing this novel, however, make it difficult to link together different parts of the story and can sometime makes it hard to grasp what is happening.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Genre: Mystery

Recommended for: People who enjoy Peter Høeg’s work.

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

The Quiet Girl

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