Author: Eliza Henry Jones
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Date of Publication: 1st July 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Cate Carlton has recently died, yet she is able to linger on, watching her three young children and her husband as they come to terms with their life without her on their rural horse property. As the months pass and her children grow, they cope in different ways, drawn closer and pulled apart by their shared loss. And all Cate can do is watch on helplessly, seeing their grief, how much they miss her and how - heartbreakingly - they begin to heal. Gradually unfolding to reveal Cate's life, her marriage, and the unhappy secret she shared with one of her children, In the Quiet is compelling, simple, tender, true - heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure.
Cate is dead. She's not quite sure how she became that way, or where she is now, or where she is going, but for now she's able to follow the members of her family and see what is happening to them. She's also able to travel back through her memories, but she doesn't like doing this too much as it takes her away from what's happening now. Through Cate's eyes we meet her family, her husband Bass, children Jessa, Cameron and Rafferty and her sister Bea, and we see how they're coping with her loss. Or not coping, in some cases.
Cate trained horses, and her love of horses has been passed on to her daughter, Jessa. When overwhelmed with emotion, Jessa will put her head in a bag of chaff, finding the smell comforting. Rafferty copes by drinking and getting stoned, while his twin brother Cameron discovers a hidden talent. Bass tries to carry on as best he can, and Bea fusses over them all, more irritating than helpful.
Cate can only observe all this as her focus drifts in and out of the present, unsure why she's still there.
This is a stunning novel. It's so beautifully written and has such emotional impact that it's hard to believe it's a debut. The pacing is perfect, with Cate drifting in and out of the present, and her secret gradually revealed not only to the reader, but to Cate herself. The setting is beautifully described. The town and the farm were very real to me.
Grief is different for everyone, and the author has really captured that here. It's such and honest and raw portrayal of loss.
I can't recommend this highly enough.
Language warning: For those of you, and I know there are a few, who don't like swearing, be aware that there is quite a bit of strong language.