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on 5 November 2007
Peter Hoeg returns to themes he explored in Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow in this bewilderingly fast-paced thriller set almost entirely in Copenhagen. Circus clown Kaspar Krone is on the trail of the abductors of KlaraMaria, the quiet girl of the title. The quiet girl is one of a group of children who (like Krone himself) appear to possess extraordinary abilities. But is everything as it seems ?

As in his previous work, Hoeg takes the thriller genre and weaves a compelling story that emerges piece by piece, while gently teasing the reader at the same time, forcing his audience to question how much of the tale is a smokescreen. This is a book that doesn't cease to surprise and challenge and deserves to be read at least twice.
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Peter Hoeg's first novel in ten years takes the reader on a trip through an almost psychedelic world of circus clowns, children with mystical abilities, powerful nuns, evil financiers, mysterious security agencies, and bizarre foundations. Kasper Krone, a circus clown, has discovered that "SheAlmighty has tuned each person in a musical key," and he is able to hear the music that SheAlmighty has created for each person. By tapping into the music of people's psyches, he can understand their moods and thoughts. Often the music he hears emanating from those around him is that of Bach, the ebb and flow of a person's inner spirit paralleling the changing moods of specific Bach masterpieces.

Complex and sometimes mystifying, The Quiet Girl builds its non-linear "story" through impressionistic scenes, presented seemingly at random from the past, present, future, and even the imagination. It is up to the reader to create a narrative from the scenes presented as the characters overlap and as additional information is revealed.

Kasper is being investigated for tax evasion and is about to be deported from Denmark to Spain. As he deals with governmental officials from Department H and other mysterious departments, people from the circus who may or may not want to help him, and the mysterious Rabia Institute, a convent of Praying Sisters, he, like the reader, tries to make sense of the world around him. When he sees a small girl, KlaraMaria, with her "family," she claims, virtually telepathically, that she has been kidnapped and wants Kaspar to help her. Eventually, he learns that the nuns from the Rabia Institute have been protecting a group of children, including KlaraMaria, believing that "Some children are born with a gift for coming close to God faster than others." All are possessed of mystic gifts, and a group of evil men, wanting to use these children for their own unstated purposes, have kidnapped six of them from around the world. The nuns seek Kasper's help.

As he searches for the missing children, Kasper encounters mortal dangers. He does not know whom he can trust, and neither does the reader. A large cast of characters, none of whom are fully developed, keep the mystery high but the reader's ability to identify with Kasper low, and when the grand finale finally occurs, and the loose ends get tied up, the reader may feel a sense of letdown by the coincidences. Hoeg's exploration of the science of sound as the key to understanding man's connections to the universe shows us a reality that is often violent and discordant. Love is fragile and fraught with peril, and the answers to life's biggest questions are often tantalizingly out of reach. Still, man must soldier on, trusting that SheAlmighty has a grander plan, a greater symphony underlying our individual fates. Mary Whipple
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 November 2008
There is much in this book which almost reads like a primer on a spiritual quest into the heart of love, and also a journey to meet the anima.

You do rather have to suspend disbelief, or a need for certainty, and just go along for an interior journey into the psyche of someone with preternatural sensitivity to the vibration of sound, and a deep connection with Bach.

Most of the time, once I got into the book, I loved the journey, though the first 30 or 40 pages I had to work hard to let the book's world grip me, and by the last 20 pages I'd got a bit tired by all the amazing synchronicities, and was thinking 'here we go again'; plus a slightly 'Boy's Own' comic book/Hollywood touch of unreality in how many times someone can have severe beatings/shootings etc administered and STILL be in a fit state to head-butt, shimmy through drains, etc etc. A more prosaic sense of how the body responds to injury had me saying 'NO WAY!' on a number of occasions!!!!!

Perhaps a firmer hand on the editing pencil could have inched me to the 5 star - too long, too repeating its devices, but gripping for all that, even if it doesn't quite match 'Miss Smilla'
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on 11 January 2008
Hoeg is back on form with The Quiet Girl. To appreciate the magical pared down writing that he is so good at you really must remove all distractions, clear your mind. Its rich and velvety like dark chocolate and equally bitter. Makes you want to wander around Copenhagen and listen to the church bells. I was gripped from the outset.

Other reviewers have told you the story; but <How> it is told you will have to find ot for yourself
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on 6 March 2014
This is an excellent dip into the more than slightly surreal mind of a one-time Danish clown who offers lessons in physical comedy as therapy. It is a thriller with large dollops of magic realism, touches of Joycean fragmentation and a wonderfully dense, tense narrative.
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on 18 October 2013
I am still reading this book, it's a difficult read, and I am a seasoned reader, but very well written, so well written I have to re read some of it. I like Peter Hoeg's writing, some more than others, this is a good one even if it taxes the grey matter.
I think it may be a story that falls into place at the end, when you can then read it again with greater clarity.
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VINE VOICEon 12 January 2011
I really wanted to enjoy this as it came highly recommended by a friend whose opinions I usually respect. But I could not seem penetrate the storyline, I never really felt that I understood what was going on.

Kasper Krone is (was?) a circus clown, seemingly quite famous, and also a talented violinist. At some point he has made enough money that the Inland Revenue is after him for tax evasion. He seems to be constantly just ahead of them, just out of reach, thanks to the help of various random people who he phones out of the blue, and a lot of luck.
There is also the Quiet Girl of the title, KlaraMaria, 9 years old, who drifts in and out of his life on some random chronology that I was unable to fathom. He is drawn to her because she has extrasensory abilities. She seems to be living with nuns, has apparently been kidnapped, yet is able to suddenly appear in his caravan, unaccompanied.
Kasper also has the ability to garner all sorts of information about people and places by their musical note, something that I found overused, well beyond the boundaries of believability. On top of this Kasper seems to have this amazing power over women by just flattering them - when actually, as a character he really has no appeal at all.

I'm really not at all clear what is going on, it's like reading a book through a haze. The coincidences are just piling up and my tolerance is failing. Enough is enough, I'm on to my next book!
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on 7 October 2012
Finding this in an Oxfam shop in Edinburgh, years after I thought I had devoured all of Hoeg's works, was one of those rare moments of true booklover ecstacy.

The unusual main character focaliser leads us through the plot with Hoeg's usual scattering of philosophical thoughts woven in to the narrative as we discover the plot. The tension builds with each chapter and you find yourself torn between wanting to read sections again to think about them more deeply and yet equally anxious to come to the resolution.

I would highly recommend this, and all of Hoeg's novels, if you are looking for an exciting mystery which will grip you throughout and keep you guessing and thinking.
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on 22 September 2010
Having read Miss Smilla I was very disappointed with this.

- Poorly translated
- Disjointed and difficult to follow
- Ludicrous paper-thin characters
- Riddled with coincidences
- Masses of irrelevances
- Errors in the plot

The whole concept is ridiculous (a man who can pick out an important letter from a stack because he can hear its contents - come on!).

I'll be fair and say the above only applies to the first 200 pages and I have been on the verge of giving up - maybe the 2nd half is brilliant but I doubt it. Other reviews saying the conclusion is poor has decided me - in the dustbin.

Don't waste your time or money.
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on 18 May 2014
This book was chosen for a book club read - ultimately only one person out of the 10 book club members could finish the book. Never before has a book been so resoundingly disliked and unread. It was confusing, frustrating, irritating and pointless. Do not waste your money.
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