Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series
1. Music 101 or higher: Music Appreciation, Baroque, Classical and Romantic Periods.
2. Religion 330, the Christian Mystics. This course requires the student to have previously taken Religion 220, New Testament.
3. Any philosophy course covering the works of Kierkegaard is recommended.
I didn’t have the religion and philosophy prereqs and I realized it when I was not far into the book, but I had the music prereq and that kept me going. I love Bach. So does the protagonist of this book, clown/musician Kasper Krone. Hoeg writes about Bach’s music in such loving detail that I could almost hear every note, and feel it with Kasper when he plays his violin.
Kasper has the gift of hearing people’s sounds, the acoustical equivalent of seeing auras. He can also hear so acutely he can tell the location of someone he speaks with on the phone. The author writes beautifully of these auditory impressions of human souls and emotions, and the complex soundscapes of every moment of life. He gives life and depth to the special silence around the quiet girl.
The blurb described this as a “fast-paced philosophical thriller.” I’d call it a meandering, musical-religious fantasy. It was not suspenseful. I didn’t suffer through it, but I had no need to turn the page out of curiosity, either. If something had somehow kept me from finishing it, it would have been like waking up from a dream—someone else’s dream, though, with his personal symbols. Sometimes the pace picked up, but then I found myself in the maze of the dream again. Another disguise, another gate keeper to get past, another hallway and elevator, another layer of doors behind doors, another set of helpers and hinderers, another imprisonment and escape. I assume much of it referred to symbols and images I would have understood if I’d had the religion prereq. The events also took the shape that dreams do regardless of faith or lack thereof, and sometimes the philosophical discussions among characters were accessible even to a reader without the prereqs. We all face our own mortality, struggle with love and intimacy and trust, and purpose. These spiritual and ethical explorations were thought-provoking, but definitely not fast-paced. There was no surprise in the ending. It was predictable early on, but that didn’t matter much, since I never felt the book was suspense, thriller or mystery anyway.
I enjoyed Kasper as trickster clown, though he sometimes lost me in his contemplations on prayer, Christianity, and the Feminine. He calls God “She Almighty” and tends to turn women into aspects of The Feminine, rather than seeing them simply as humans. This didn’t resonate for me, nor did the idea that the divine has gender.
The main idea I took from <i>The Quiet Girl</i> is something I suspect the author did not intend, but it was what I thought of. There is a difference between intercessory prayer and distant intentionality. Some people in this book practice prayer, and others practice intentional action at a distance through the force of the mind. (Background: Peer-reviewed scientific studies have been published on both of these practices. Some studies find intercessory prayer to have a modest but statistically significant effect on health outcomes. Some find no effect. Studies of remote and time-displaced mental influence on random event generators, varying from number-generating machines to randomly-programmed ambulatory robots, have found evidence for the effects of intention and will.) The assumption with intercessory prayer is that God intervenes, not the will of the person praying. In direct intentional influence at distance, there is no assumed intermediary making a judgment call—should I let this happen or not? The events in this strange tale raise questions of right and wrong and the gray areas in between in all aspects of life, from love and art to extraordinary powers.
All in all, this is a book worth wandering around in—probably more worthwhile for readers with all the prerequisites—if you don’t mind wandering. Or, if you prefer the direct route, you could just listen to Bach.