BOOK CLUB: The Quiet and the Loud

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The Quiet and the Loud by Australian author Helena Fox is an emotional and unforgettable tale. It’s about being brave enough to be true to yourself and learning to discover joy even when times are unimaginably dark.

18-year-old Georgia (or George as she is mostly called) lives in Sydney, Australia with her mum Sara, stepmum Mel and her 84-year-old Gramps. Life in the house is noisy, her whole life has been noisy, there are so many demands from others and being pulled in different directions. At times she dreams of quiet.

Growing up with an alcoholic father life was not easy, when he left and moved to Seattle it caused George a great deal of unresolved trauma. She was lucky to have her best friend Tess and Laz in her life to talk to as her suffering lays dormant. But all that changes. 

Tess is about to become a teen mum at 18 and relies heavily on George to be part of her parenting plan. Laz is in anguish over the impact of climate change and her estranged father won’t stop calling and texting saying he has bad news. 

The writing is beautiful, featuring powerful and vivid descriptions that allow the reader to clearly imagine the scenes, the characters, and the action. It is well-paced, and Helena Fox has succeeded in getting the reader interested in following the incredible mix of characters. They’re all so different and yet best friends for life.

Their different traits complement each other so well to create an engrossing story and the clash in their personalities enhances the drama and thrill.

George is a very sympathetic character that readers will love to know better; she carries in all her pain to help others. You truly want to see her overcome her troubled life, which is fully explored and explained.  How she overcomes depression, finds her voice, and stands up for herself is a lesson that will speak volumes to readers.

I loved the budding romance between George and Calliope, a Sri Lankan Australian. George found her easy to talk to and opens herself up to discover new interests and experiences. Therapy also plays a big part in the novel which helped the characters resolve personal issues and increase self-awareness with their mental health conditions.

It takes courage and resilience to write a book with such heavy subject matters used in the narrative with addiction, depression, emotional abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic violence, and natural disasters. However, Helena also infuses themes of hope, love, and inner strength that leave you with a sense of optimism.

I feel the theme of The Quiet and the Loud is understanding yourself and who you are. We can get trapped in our own minds. Circumstances and demands force us to believe in the wrong things and to do the wrong things. No matter how bad it gets it’s important that we never give up on fighting the worst in ourselves. 

A must-read for all ages who have struggled with mental health issues or suffered through abuse and have overcome challenges with the determination to create a life of meaning. 

Thank you, Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review. 

A selection of our members are reading The Quiet and the Loud by Helena Fox. You can read their reviews in the comments below, or add your own thoughts.

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Quiet and the Loud

  1. The Quiet and the Loud by Helena Fox is set in Sydney in early summer 2019 as the devastating fires started to rage. The main character, George, is an only child, her parents are divorced and she lives with her mum and her wife. Her alcoholic father now lives in Seattle. The story jumps around from 2019, when George is eighteen to flashbacks of traumatic experiences from her childhood.
    George’s best friend is Tess, she’s deliberately pregnant and its clear from early on relies very much on George and George is always keen to please her. In fact George seems keen to please everyone and keeps her thoughts and worries to herself. Despite her close friendship with Tess George is a loner, she loves to kayak around Sydney harbour, she’s an artist and very clearly affected by the events of her childhood.
    While this is a story of friendship, of family, of forgiveness, it also reminds us that everyone’s story is different, many people can have very similar experiences but be affected differently and react differently. Many of the characters are going through tough times and not just because of the fires that make it feel the end of the world is nigh. Calliope, George’s love interest, has family troubles, Tess has dreadful anxiety and postpartum depression, George’s Mum still has guilt from her failed marriage and more importantly that she failed George.
    To be honest I found this story quite depressing, early summer in 2019 was a dreadful time for millions of Australians and the fear of the fires and what might lie ahead comes through, I wanted to read the story quickly and find a happy ending for everyone. Sadly of course shortly after the fires burnt out the pandemic arrived and changed everyone’s lives. Perhaps it is my knowledge of what was to come after the fires that made me find the story so gloomy.
    The fact that I found the subject matter so sad is not a reflection on the writing, it is well written, lyrical, with poetic pauses throughout the novel. Its important that we don’t forget how horrific the fires were and how many Australians were affected across such a wide area. It must have been truly horrific to try and lead a normal life while the air quality was so appalling. So while I didn’t “enjoy” this novel its one that I will remember. Thank you to Pan Macmillan and Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read this novel.

  2. Firstly, you can’t help not love the cover of this book. It is so serene that it makes me want to be out on the water in a kayak with my own thoughts.

    I see that Helena has written another book but I have not read it as this author is very new to me.

    I wasn’t sure what I was reading at first as I was just getting to know the characters but I could sense from carrying on reading that I was reading a story of true friendships, family interacting with each other, believing in oneself, secrets from the past and how to deal with them on your own, trauma within the family and friends and finding love and knowing who you are as well.

    It’s not hard to warm to the character of George (shortened for Georgie) who has had an eventful life with having her alcoholic dad now estranged and divorced by her mother and annoying the hell out of her all the time with texts and phone calls. Her best friend Tess is going to become a mother and she is only in her late teens. It is something she has always wanted to have a baby. Another friend to George is Laz who is gay and so into protesting for climate changes.

    George’s mum is now a lesbian and her partner is Mel and honestly it was so easy to warm to the both of them and their challenges in life. I loved the character of Gramps, George’s 84 year old grandfather. He had me giggling with some of his antics.

    George finds love with a girl she saw from her time of kayaking and she falls hard for this stranger. They finally meet at the artist studio that Mel owns and there love blossoms from there but of course it will take time. Friendships are pulled and jealousy becomes known.

    There is a story in the book re the fires that hit Sydney coastline in the late summer of 2019. It brought back memories for me as my brother was in the thick of those fires and other people I knew that lost their homes, animals. It was just devastating watching it all on the television and reading it in the papers.

    This book really looks at domestic violence and parental addiction also. Actually this book opens your eyes on a lot of subjects and whether you have been through any of these or not, it will open your eyes up to what is happening all around us even today.

    I found George to be very mature for her age and having to deal with so many pressures in her life.

    I found this storyline to be very moving and honest as well. Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Pan Macmillan Australia for allowing me to read this memorable book. Thank you to the author Helena Fox for writing this novel. the way you have described everything truely came from your heart.

  3. I enjoyed this story even though it was full of varied deep emotional themes, some of which were very painful to read. For me, personally, some aspects of the story certainly resonated and at times reactivated my own life traumas. I admire the author’s ability to develop such strong characters who show inner strength to overcome life’s difficulties. Faith love and hope are themes I felt were creatively threaded throughout the story to lift the potentially depressive mood. I will recommend this book to my elderly neighbours who love stories with depth of emotion.

  4. What a delight it was to read this beautifully written book! With a background of the summer fires on the east coast in 2019, and an ongoing reference to climate change, this was a story of complicated family and friendship relationships. Georgia is a 19 year old who has taken on the pain, secrets, and needs of others. Her best friend is pregnant and expects George to be involved every step of the way. George suffered trauma in her childhood which her mother never speaks about so she’s unable to make peace with it. As an artist, Georgia finds release by painting the words she can’t say and by spending time on and in the quiet waters of Sydney Harbour. She meets and falls in love with another young woman who offers her a different, quieter and less complex relationship where she isn’t the one doing all the giving.
    Threaded throughout the story are poems written from the perspective of a taxidermied bird who watches Georgia’s attempts to fulfill everyone’s needs but her own.
    It’s an extraordinary book, painful, emotional and exquisitely written. Thank you Pan McMillan and Beauty & Lace for the chance to read and review this book.

  5. Thankyou to Beauty and Lace, Pan McMillan and Helena Fox for the opportunity to read and review The Quiet and the Loud.
    Georges life hasn’t been easy. An alcoholic father and a mother who tends to hide most emotion. Her father eventually heads off to America when the marriage breaks down and marries again.
    Now George is grown and is supporting a friend who has chosen to become pregnant ,a friend who expects a lot of her, a mother who is still dealing with the past, and her Dad who has decided he now needs her. Life is still not easy for George.
    Georges real passion is the water and she loves to kayak which is where she meets Calliope who comes to be the one person who gives George the peace she craves.
    Georges father continues to harass her and eventually tells her he is dying and in true form tells her to keep quiet about his revelation.
    All this time George continues to try to take on everyone’s problems and has easily traded her life for those around her.
    The description of Sydney ,the ferries and the waterfront were very interesting and it was easy to understand how George found her peace there.
    I found this a very different book to what I would normally be drawn to but found it very emotional and thought provoking..

  6. Thank you for the copy of The Quiet and the Loud by Helena Fox.

    This is the story of George who has a lot going on. She has had problems in the past with her alcoholic father who is no longer involved in her life. Her mother has tried to hide from the shame and is now with a new partner Mel who is a talented artist. George lives with them and Gramps in a run-down waterfront property. George loves to get out on the water on her kayak where it’s quiet and she can imagine the quiet life underneath the water. Her long time friend is Tess who has decided she wants to be a young Mum, not really knowing what it entails. Her other good friend is Laz who is gay and extremely worried about climate issues. Into her life comes Calliope and they instantly get each other, but with so much going on how will that affect them?

    Her life is really busy and loud and George just concentrates on keeping everyone happy. After things start piling up she realises this is not working for her, and she needs to look after herself. I love that she realises this and enjoyed seeing how she made changes to get by. The book is written very poetically which was certainly different for me, but done well and by the end of the book I realised how well it worked. It was interesting that it was set around late 2019 when there were bushfires around a lot of Australia and how that affected lives. This also introduced activism and modern issues. It shows that everyone has things going on on their lives which are not always apparent to others, and how these can be overcome. There were some heavy issues such as mental health issues and domestic abuse that were handled well. A great book for our times with many concerns addressed.

  7. Thank you, Beauty & Lace, for allowing me to read & review ‘The Quiet and the Loud by Helena Fox’.
    This book was hard to start; I thought it was just another story about a teenager whingeing about her problems. However, after getting to know the characters and unpeeling their story, I enjoyed this read and the journey it took me on. Georgina’s parents are divorced, her father is absent, and her mum has moved on with a new wife while her best friend is pregnant, the surrounding landscape is choking on bushfire smoke, and there is so much noise around her. In a bid to find the quiet in her life, George tries to please everyone and gives in to their needs, but ultimately George gathers the courage to face her demons and begin with the right choices for her.
    This was a great read about finding your voice and moving forward in the manner you choose through acknowledging the past and learning the true meaning of love, family, and friendship. Thank you ‘Beauty & Lace Bookclub’ for the opportunity to read ‘The Quiet and the Loud by Helena Fox’.

  8. Thank you so much Harper Collins N and Beauty and Lace for allowing me to read The Quiet and the Loud. Also to the Writer Helena Fox.
    I did find it a little hard at the start because there were a few different characters to learn about.
    The main character had alot of trauma to try to heal from due to her childhood and past experiences. Due to this she tries to always help everyone else.
    The novel shows different relationships. Best friends, Mother and daughter, budding romance.
    through all of this there are also so many topics covered in the novel, mental health, post natal depression, post traumatic stress disorder, domestic violence, addiction, the big fires, emotional abuse and depression.
    I feel like Helena really succeeded in writing a novel that not only brings alot of important topics to the forefront, she also showed a lot of strength in doing so.
    in the end I think the novels main theme was to never give up no matter what and that is pretty important in this day and age.
    I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

  9. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan Australia for my copy to read and review.
    This book touches on so many topics from addictions to anxiety, friendships and love.
    It is a great story about George and all the loud that is going on around her. Her secrets, kept to protect everyone else are becoming overwhelming. The Sydney fires are happening causing devastation and she is trapped in a smoke filled environment.
    She paints to express her emotions and feelings. To let it all out.
    George finds a girl Calliope who is perfect for her but she is so busy pleasing everyone else she actually forgets what she wants.
    This book is so full and emotional at times but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was written by Helena Fox so well. I think she did a great job fitting everything in.

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