A wild, circuslike ride with The Quiet Girl
December 7, 2007
Fasten your seat belt for a wild, sometimes terrifying but always magical ride with Peter Hoegs new book, The Quiet Girl.The quiet girl is 9-year-old KlaraMaria, who is brought to Kasper Krone, a world-famous clown, for healing. Krone has a mystical gift, the ability to hear a persons aura. She Almighty [as Hoeg refers to God] has tuned each person in a musical key, and Kasper could hear it. In meeting the little girl, at that precise moment the silence occurred.So this literary mystery adventure begins, and its a three-ring circus. Krone sets out to discover why KlaraMaria is being held captive with a group of children, who all possess a confounding inner sense of silence. Ive been searching for that silence, he tells her. All my life.His search involves harrowing car chases through Copenhagen and its suburbs with a circus stuntman amputee at the wheel; searches of the clowns frugal circus caravan home by threatening monks; dodging extradition to Spain for tax evasion; violent encounters with executives and bodyguards of shady corporations and government agencies; and a poignant love story with Stina, a geodesist, whom Krone first sees walking backward out of the sea in flippers and scuba gear.Krone forms an alliance with a group of cunning nuns and finds vital information and renewed friendship with his dying father in his plight to save KlaraMaria and her friends.More than a thriller, The Quiet Girl is crammed with Hoegs prodigious knowledge. There is his passion for music, especially Bach, and his compassion for children; his distrust of big business and big government; a treatise on the science of earthquakes; awed respect for the power of women; and belief in the supremacy of the human mind over human-made obstacles. These themes, many of which appeared in Hoegs multilayered best-seller Smillas Sense of Snow, are just some of the ideas he works into this story. Like the circus, these mental acrobatics are either jaw-dropping or merely amusing: Krone had tried to repair a couple of Cro-Magnon-like hangovers with Haydns symphonies. They had a more powerful detoxifying effect than Mozarts, perhaps because of the surgical horns, perhaps because of the shock effects, perhaps because of Haydns ability to create interferences that made the instruments sound like something unknown. Divinely sent, from another, better, less-alcoholic world. Now and then I admit this circus seemed to be spinning out of control in need of a skilled ringmaster but happily I was won over by the entertainment of Hoegs astonishing spectacle.