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.
It is slightly unnerving to consider the possibility of being able to watch over your loved ones as they deal with the aftermath of your death. An emerging voice in Australian fiction, Eliza Henry-Jones allows her reader to experience life after death in an accessible way through her debut novel, In the Quiet. Readers will find it hard pressed not to connect to Henry-Jones voice, I know my connection was immediate. Her prose is both refined and observant, as she explores a family’s heartache at the loss of their beloved wife and mother. At the front and centre of this moving story is the first person narrative of mother and wife Cate Carlton. Despite the novel being told from Cate’s eyes as she floats in the afterlife, this is a novel that is grounded in the here and now, exploring the raw emotions experienced by the grieving Carlton family.
In the Quiet is a very impressive debut novel. I found it a deeply compelling and contemplative piece of fiction. Henry-Jones takes an interesting scenario, a woman watching over her family after death and turns it into an exceptional novel with strong emotional pull. The way in each character is portrayed in this novel by Henry-Jones is what makes this novel a standout read. Henry-Jones has a sixth sense when it comes to her characters, she knows how each one thinks, acts and feels, getting inside their hearts and minds. I found the prose in this book admirable, Henry-Jones is able to seamlessly alternate perspectives between teenage girl Jessica, switch to husband Bass and move to the main protagonist Cate. Each of the characters featured in In The Quiet left an imprint on my consciousness, long after closing the book. Another winning feature of In the Quiet is the country based setting, which held strong appeal to me. The Carlton family lives on a farm in rural Victoria. Animals, in particular horses, feature heavily in the novel. Henry-Jones examines how horses in particular can play a part in the grieving and healing process after loss. Although the subject matter may appear bleak, I found In the Quiet uplifting and the messages of hope were loud and clear.
In the Quiet is a reflective piece of Australian literature, it is a coming of age novel as well as a heartfelt exploration of the main themes of family, love, loss, grief, hope and second chances. It kept the pages turning for me as I desperately wanted to solve the central mystery of what happened to Cate. I also wanted to discover if Cate would ever move on from her place of limbo in the afterlife. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to be introduced to the works of Eliza Henry-Jones, an author I firmly believe to be a very talented and fresh voice in Australian fiction.
In the Quiet was published in 2015 by Harper Collins Australia.http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460704769/