28 July 2008


Random House, 2007, 406 pages, ISBN 978-1-846-55060-7
Translated from Danish by Nadia Christensen

Kasper Krone's God is a woman. "She Almighty had tuned each person in a musical key and Kasper could hear it." The world hums around Kasper. Some people emanate harmony, others a sense of confusion. Kasper's perceptions are inundated by orchestral imagery, keys and tones. Kasper works with damaged children, those who have retreated into themselves. He treats them by accessing their "accoustic essence".

Kasper's father Maximilian, now dying in a hospice, was a circus clown. He took Kasper into the ring with him, and circus imagery has always been part of Kasper's life. Maximilian decided when Kasper was in his teens to leave the circus life so that Kasper could have higher education and a secure income. Kasper though had the circus in his blood and never forgave Maximilian, returning to the circus at times throughout his life.

One of Kasper's patients is a nine year old girl called KlaraMaria. In her he can sense great pain, and he suspects that she has been abused, perhaps sexually. Days after he had first met KlaraMaria those who brought her to Kasper paid him off, sending a message that they no longer required his services. A year later KlaraMaria has disappeared from the children's home she lives in and Kasper fears for her life.

At this point I must confess that I have not finished reading this book. It is most unusual for me to abandon a book in mid stream. I am nearly 200 pages in, and have only a sketchy idea of what is going on. It is not for want of trying. After the first sixty pages I started again, but I feel as if I am swimming in treacle. I think the story is swinging through a number of time frames. It switches from the past to the present, from Kasper's childhood to his friendship with a young woman called Stina who disappeared, from reality to illusion. So confused am I that I don't even feel as if I can trust my perceptions of what the book is about. I think, but I am not sure, that some of the conversations that Kasper has with KlaraMaria are in his mind. Certainly Kasper has preserved Stina's tone and vibration in his mind so that he can imagine that she is with him.

The writing style in this book is fairly dry and minimalist. The reader is left to draw the images and make the connections from scanty clues. I can't tell whether this is the effects of poor translation or not. I've checked out what other readers who record their reactions on Library Thing thought, and most of them appear to share my bewilderment. I'm disappointed because I read and enjoyed his earlier novel MISS SMILLA'S FEELING FOR SNOW.

So there it is, my first rating of 0 since I began this blog, in fact my first zero for a number of years. I feel defeated!


Literary Feline said...

That is too bad. I enjoyed Smillia's Sense of Snow as well and am looking forward to reading more by Hoeg. I have a short story collection by him sitting in my TBR room waiting its turn. Maybe I will fare better with that than you did with The Quiet Girl.

Kerrie said...

You may well fare better. There was just something about the style that I couldn't come to terms with, and I got tired of not understanding what was happening.

pussreboots said...

"Swimming in treacle" is a description I'll have to keep in mind the next time I find myself struggling with a confusing book that just doesn't engage my attention.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin