Book Club: In The Quiet

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Author: Eliza Henry Jones
ISBN: 978-1-4607-5036-0
RRP: $29.99

In The Quiet is a touching debut by young Australian author Eliza Henry Jones. It is original, engaging and emotional, and told from a unique perspective.

The story is told by Cate Carlton, a recently deceased wife and mother of three who has been able to remain near her much loved family. For 280 pages we see her family through her eyes; watching them grieve, remember and slowly begin to heal. We also see her remember so that slowly all of the pieces come together for us to get to know the family and the life they shared before the tragedy that was Cate’s death.

The unique writing style made the flow a little disjointed and jumpy which was perfect for this story; it’s what it needed but I found the lack of chapters really frustrating. I couldn’t play just one more chapter and I found it really difficult to decide where to put the book down – not that I ever really wanted to.

Cate worries about her family, originally I think she lingers to ensure they are going to be okay but then worries that she will lose herself if she doesn’t stay with them.

In the beginning Cate doesn’t know how she died, so we can’t know how she died. I got the feeling it must have been quite quick for there to be no inkling of what may have happened and I wasn’t sure whether it would end up coming to light.

The story focuses on Cate and her immediate family but also those who are very close to them, those I would call the family they chose, and Cate’s sister and mother.

In the Quiet explores the unseen side of one of the lines everyone hears after they lose someone close to them. They are always watching over you, well Cate was definitely watching over them and wishing there was something she could do to ease their pain, some way she could make them reach out to each other.

in the quiet

The Carltons live on a rural horse property, and without Cate there doing her share things are becoming a little hard for everyone else to manage. Some chores it’s because they were her jobs, she was the only one that did them and it would feel wrong to be doing them, and others because no-one really had the motivation to do them.

Most of the extra characters we meet have come out to the farm to lend a hand, Laura the neighbour helps with the horses, Cate’s sister Bea comes in to do whatever she can and Bass’s friend Steve comes round just to see that Bass is hanging in there.

Cate’s unique perspective allows her to see what’s happening now, remember what has come before and look at things from a completely new angle and discover things that had been right there in front of her from the beginning; and as we share Cate’s perspective we learn of all these things with her.

Everybody grieves differently and everyone heals differently and that was addressed beautifully. I think the most heartbreaking element for me was the lack of proper communication. They were all there for one another but never actually sat down and really talked about what was happening or how they were coping.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone. It is a well written and compelling debut tackling love, loss and healing head on but also in much more subtle ways with other characters as well. I think this was a risky perspective to write from and it could have created issues for the storyline but it was handled beautifully. Eliza Henry Jones is definitely going to be an author to look out for.

20 of our lucky readers are going to be reading In The Quiet as well so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

In the Quiet is book #37 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.

You can find Eliza on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

In the Quiet is available now through Harper Collins, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson and where all good books are sold.

21 thoughts on “Book Club: In The Quiet

  1. It would be great to read and review the book “In The Quiet” by author Eliza Henry Jones. It does sounds like an very a engaging and quite an emotional book to read.

  2. Oh I hope I get selected for this. What an interesting slant on a story line. It has got me thinking ……

  3. In the Quiet, the debut novel for Eliza Henry Jones, gently explores the aftermath of a sudden death in the family from a different perspective. Cate, wife, mother of 3, doesn’t remember how she died, she knows she is dead but finds it strange to “know that but to not know how it happened.” And so the scene is set for Cate to watch and listen as her husband and children deal with their grief in their own separate ways and slowly heal.

    Rather than written in chapters, the story is written as a series of short vignettes that flit between things Cate is watching happening with her family now and memories of her early life. Over the course of the story we find out how she meets her husband, Bas, their early days together, arrival of the children, twin boys Rafferty and Cameron and then their daughter Jessa. Slowly we discover how other characters in the story fit together, Beatrice, Laura, Sylvia, Henry, the silver eyed man. Along the way we get teasers, inklings, of what happened, how, why, Cate died. We watch an ordinary family struggle with what has occurred, yet unable or unwilling to communicate their innermost feelings with each other and we feel Cate’s frustration at this inability.

    As time moved on I found the characters moved from almost shadowy images seen by Cate into developed characters in their own right and with that we see the characters, particularly Bas and the children begin to heal and move forward.

    I particularly liked about this story that it dealt with what for many is a difficult topic, death, without being overly emotional or maudlin. It acknowledged and normalised the different ways people grieve and their reactions to the death of someone close. The characters were all normal everyday people and, aside from the story being from Cate’s perspective, there was nothing mystical about it. By telling the story from Cate’s perspective I felt that it removed the overwhelming rawness of grief while providing an insight into the grieving process.

    While initially I found the disjointedness of the story a little disconcerting I soon found myself engrossed in the characters and their development. This is a beautiful book which I enjoyed immensely.

  4. In the Quiet…this book was a totally different read to others. I found the writing from the perspective of Cate who had died was an interesting concept. It worked.
    The way the family dealt with their loss was heartbreaking. I know each deals with tragedy their own way and the anger and guilt they feel.
    The lack of communication between the family is so evident.
    A bittersweet story that is a great read that draws you into the family, their story and the way they deal with the reality of loosing their wife, mother, sister and friend.
    It was strange to find there were no set boundary of Chapters in the book and the way the story bounced around all fitted together.
    It was interesting to discover little clues along the way to how Cate did die but it still was a surprise (not saying due to spoiling the outcome), but I am glad in a way it happened the way it did, being quick (when you read the book, you will understand).
    I would recommend this book to read.

  5. I loved loved LOVED this book! It is so different to anything else I have ever read.
    It begins “I don’t know how I died. That’s strange, isn’t it?” And from there I was hooked.

    Cate has died, and although she knows she is dead, she can still see and hear her young family & close friends in snippets of time, but she is unsure how long has passed between her glimpses of how they are dealing with her death.

    She watches as the family has to take on her job on their farm of training horses, and she sees those close to her grieve, and she too grieves at the pain they are going through. As time passes, she has to watch how they slowly manage to accept life without her, and how they must move on. But their pain runs deep, and they have scars from her death. Each person handles this differently, but it separates them, as their hurt is too painful for them to talk about or to share.

    The children grow older, move through their school years and Cate feels the anguish of not being there for them. She watches her husband Bass struggle with life without her – her clothes, her belongings, her pillowslips are all a constant reminder of his wife. It is a heart wrenching read, but also compelling. The author shows such insight into death and how people handle it (or how they don’t) and some of the issues that arise from this.

    The book is written in a series of flashbacks, and then current events, each piece from half a page to 2 pages long. I found that this added to the story, as sometimes that’s how memories work – something we see or do jolts us back to thinking about an event in our past. We learn of Cate’s childhood, her marriage to Bass, and the birth of their children. But we still don’t know how Cate died.

    There are some thought provoking lines from Cate – “I miss being alive” and “My life has ended and I am still here” and “normally it would have been me, but since I died it has been Bass” and “I wonder if he’s thinking of me” and “I want to know how I died.”

    Cate’s death isn’t revealed until right at the end of the book. And it is done in a way that fits in with the rest of the story.

    I would highly recommend this book – it is a very different story line. I found it easy to read – but hard to put down! It is the author Eliza Henry Jones first book and it is so well written. Incredible to think also that the author is just 25 years old.

    “Books smell like Dreams” – I love that line.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace, and HarperCollins Publishers for choosing me to be one of your reviewers for In The Quiet.

  6. In the quiet is an amazing read! I cant believe it is a first novel. It has a lovely flow to it and the way it is written makes the reader get right into the heart of the story, to feel that they are actually there, imagining what is happening, floating above them all and seeing the events unfold. It is a beautiful book, and a reality check for the reader, a tear jerker at times but sometimes you smile thru the happiness too. A completely different perspective, great imagination ( or perhaps this is how the writer could/has dealt with grief at some point). I think this book and story would be a fantastic gift to someone who is grieving and would be able to believe and hope that the person they love is watching them and even be reread so man times. This will be on my shelf of favourites/ do no forget about books. Truly humbled by this book. Many thanks for the opportunity to read. Katrina

  7. “In the Quiet” was a truly extraordinary book. I was taken off guard by how moving it was; sad and yet uplifting at the same time.

    At the centre of the book is a dilemma we all face. We want to think that when we die, we’ll be mourned, we’ll be missed, people will be sad; but we also want to think that our family will be okay. Is it possible for these two desires to be reconciled?

    The book is narrated by Cate Carlton. She’s recently died, far too young, but finds herself able to watch her family. It’s an effective technique, because although Cate can watch, she has virtually no capacity to reflect on what she’s seeing. So we see current events, and some of Cate’s memories, but much of the emotion is left open to the reader’s interpretation. It is impressive how emotionally laden the novel is under these circumstances.

    More importantly, those emotions ring true. Anyone who’s ever been in a long term relationship, or been a parent, or a friend, will recognise many of the small moments here. There’s a perceptiveness and truthfulness that makes these relationships familiar, but also makes you care acutely about the characters.
    Although Cate is most concerned with her family – her two sons and her daughter, and her husband Bass – she also views her more extended “family” – good friend Laura and her nephew Henry, Bass’ friend Steve, and her own mother. Cate’s death has affected them all, and how they cope will in turn affect her husband and children.

    It is hard to fully express how wonderful this book is. Yes, it is sad, especially as we come to realise how well Cate was loved, and how big a hole her death has left. Most readers will be struck by how difficult it is for teenagers to be left without a mother, and will hurt for them. And Bass’ silent agony and uncertainty about how to help his children will also resonate. However, it also shows us how resilient people can be, and how great a capacity for love and caring they have. There’s also many demonstrations of the different ways people show and express love.

    I’m glad I read this. Due to a major medical problem, I’ve recently faced the prospect of leaving my husband with three small children to raise. If my family were to come to the point Cate’s family comes to, and I knew it, I think I could rest peacefully. “In the Quiet” is one of those novels that will linger in the memory for a long time.

  8. ‘In The Quiet’ is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of the process of grief a family undertakes after the death of a loved one. We experience the story through Cate, the mother and wife of the Carlton family, and throughout the novel we are trying to piece together the cause of her death whilst also observing the grief and changes in dynamics that her family goes through and how they eventually are able to begin moving on.

    This book was so addictive and would be a great one to take on holiday as it’s a real page turner especially as you find out more and more about the family and the events that unfold. I highly recommend this book and have already loaned it to my mum because I know she will love it!!!

  9. In the quiet was a fantastic captivating ,sad,happy emotional read, which i really enjoyed reading.. I am going to pass this wonderful story on to my mum and sister as i am sure they will love it as much as i did

  10. A truly unique book by Eliza Jones. Not a typical story but a very touching and heartfelt look at death from another perspective. The story is very moving as it explores the different ways in which each character has dealt with the loss of Cate as both mother and wife. It is probably one of the most confronting books I have read, it was like peering into the lives of those left living but with a haunting reality of what it might be like for those that have departed.

    Eliza Jones I think has written a book based on the raw truth of what life is like after death and how members of a same family deal with the guilt felt and how they deal with that grief and how life progresses.

    I thought it interesting also how the actual death was not a main focus of the story but how the death was dealt with. The story also let you make your mind up about the characters without ever knowing how Cate died until the end. It also did not give a forethought of how the accident happened… just that it did and how the loss was dealt with by each character according to how they felt.

    It is was a thoroughly enjoyable book to read and would recommend this book to others. I think it also helps deal with loss and gives that “other” perspective that perhaps most don’t think about. Thanks you Eliza Jones for a book that was so different and interesting to read. It will make me rethink some lives that have passed in my lifetime.

  11. Had a huge lump in my throat all through reading the book! Its such an intimate and intense look at the lives of a family while they go through the worst time ever. As a mum it was a really hard book to read!
    Was able to feel the emotions of the narrator so intensely.
    Keeps you waiting with bated breath till the end to find out how she died. Really love the way each person in the familes pain is shown and how they cope with the loss and come to terms with it. Even though the story deals with death its not a dark and gloomy book rather it shows the resilience of the human spirit to cope and recover from loss while still holding on to memories of the loved one.

  12. Thank you for providing me with a copy of this book for review! What a unique book!

    It tells the story of Cate – a mother of three children and a husband, who has died, but is still watching her family as they deal with the aftermath of her death.

    You learn a lot about the characters, Bass – her husband, Raff & Cameron her twin boys and Jessa her daughter. They live on a rural property somewhere in Australia.

    I found initially it was hard to get into as it bounces back and forth between all of the characters, but once you get to know them you can’t help but get involved in their circumstances, and by the end of the book I couldn’t put it down. It is so hard to see how they are all dealing with their mother’s death and you feel like giving them all a big hug.

    You don’t find out until near the end how their mother died, no spoilers here, but it really breaks your heart.

    For a debut author, this is outstanding and so believable, and this is a very Aussie book. Highly recommended.

  13. When I first started to read the story I felt I was flicking back to the previous section to try to work out where the story was heading. Then I started to fall in love with the characters and saddened by the situation. Some characters I felt like shaking at times just so they would move on but then I had to keep reminding myself they were all grieving in their own way. This story is visionary and unique. Great read, sensitive storyline, entriging elements of day to day life after the death of a close loved one. Will there be a next novel? I do hope so as I feel there is more to tell! Well done Eliza Henry Jones. You have written a worthy novel. I want to know more about Cate from the family perspective and I want to know what the future is for Bass and his teenage children. A must read.

  14. Thankyou for the opportunity to review the book ‘In the Quiet’ by Eliza Henry Jones.
    I loved this novel, , it was very emotional.
    The story is about Cate Carlton who has recently died but is still watching over her three young children, husband and sister as they come to terms with life without her on their rural horse property. Cate watches as her children grow, and how they all grieve in different ways. Cate see’s their grief and how much they miss her, and how her husband heartbreakingly finds a new love.
    The story unfolds Cate’s life, her marriage and an unhappy secret she has told her teenage twin son.

  15. I was chosen to review the book “In The Quiet” by Eliza Henry Jones. First of all I think that the title for this book is very fitting as it perfectly describes the main character’s situation.

    It says on the cover of the book that you will weep, and weep I did, four pages in and I was crying, also thinking how will I ever finish this book if I am crying now.

    This book is written from the point of view from a deceased mother, we do not find out how she died and are lead to believe that even her herself does not know. She is writing as if she is left in a suspended state, left to watch over her family without being able to feel or have any input into their lives. Only there as an observer.

    She gets to see how her children, husband, family and friends try to continue their lives without her presence. She seemed to be the glue that held everybody together and is only able to watch in silence as they try and continue on their own. She is not aware of any space of time, meaning that hours, weeks or months can go by without her realising. She see’s the struggles they go through, the rebellious behaviour they display and even secrets that she discovers.

    As the book progresses she seems to recall more memories, but there is also a lot she can not remember. She watches in silence as her family try to survive without her.

    This book was interesting to me as it explores a genre that I have not heard of before and suggests an alternative point of view. the lack of feeling from the main character was quite confronting as it was suggested that upon dying there was no more feeling. I did enjoy this book, written from this point of view but I am not sure if I would read another in this genre as it did upset me in some places.

    I would definitely recommend this book to other readers looking to read something out of the box.

    Thankyou for the opportunity to review this book.

  16. I loved this book. I loved how it was written and the concept.
    This book deals with everyones emotions and different ways of dealing with the loss of a loved one.
    I know from first hand experience that we all react to these things in different ways and sometimes others can find it quite confronting if your way is not what they expect or find acceptable.
    I loved the concept that Cate was aware that she had died although she was unsure how and she was now watching over her loved ones and was still feeling emotions. She felt for them and wanted them all to heal and move forward but yet at the same time she was amazed that they didnt all just crumble and fall into a heap without her.
    I Spent my time on a long haul flight reading this book and it certainly helped the hours pass. I will certainly look out for more books from this same author.

  17. Upon reading the first chapter it was a differently written to what I was used to .I was absorbed into this very quickly. It dealt with a lot of family issues and handled the childrens related experiences very well.Watching over the family as a loving deceased mother is heartbreaking to read, all whilst watching her children and husband function without here in the family home. Indepth and emotional and very relatable. Makes you look at your own differently.
    I always put my self in the mothers shoes, so a bit hard and tear jerky at times. The children received help and slowly heal in their own way.
    I would recommend based on this powerful and empowering read.

  18. What a very clever writer Eliza is, it was a book that had me from page 1 and it took me on a journey of reality along with with some real down to earth parts that make this book seem so real and in the moment. It made me wonder if that is what happens to everyone that passes away and the thought of not being able to communicate and just watch and hear things seemed so sad and frustrating for Cate. I had a few moments of tears and a few laughs at the colourful language of the siblings. I would definately read another book from Eliza as she expresses all characters right from the heart in their raw form that is so believable it is good. This book came in time for me as I had recently lost a friend and have been feeling a bit down so I felt it lifted my spirits a bit as well as taking me away from the real world for a while while being immersed in this families journey. I did not want this book to ever end though, it was different from anything else I have read and I wish I was a fantastic writer like Eliza Henry Jones.

  19. I found it a great read from the moment i picked it up…..
    I didn’t want to put it down…..
    I haven’t read any other books by this author….
    but, i will definitely be looking for her next novel.
    Being a mother I found It was very moving and rather
    upsetting in parts….but i had to read on to see what happens
    I was a little over whelmed with emotions at times reading it….
    Thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous book… 😀

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