A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella

If you’re a regular visitor to Linda’s Book Bag then you’ll know I’m trying not to take on too much at the moment as life is rather busy. However, when I discovered Ethan Joella’s writing last year I simply had to participate in the blog tour for Ethan’s new book A Quiet Life. You see, A Little Hope (reviewed here) was one of my favourite reads in 2022 (see here) so I simply couldn’t resist. My enormous thanks to Fiona Brownlee for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for A Quiet Life. It’s a real pleasure to start off the tour with my review today.

Published by Muswell Press on 23rd February 2023, A Quiet Life is available for purchase here.

A Quiet Life

From the author of A Little Hopea Read with Jenna Bonus Pick – comes another “heartwarming, character-driven” (Booklist) life-affirming novel about three individuals whose lives intersect in unforeseen ways.

Set in a close-knit suburb in the grip of winter, A Quiet Life follows three people grappling with loss and finding a tender wisdom in their grief.

Chuck Ayers used to look forward to nothing so much as his annual trip to Hilton Head with his wife, Cat – that yearly taste of relaxation they’d become accustomed to after a lifetime of working and raising two children. Now, just months after Cat’s death, Chuck finds that he can’t let go of her belongings- her favourite towel, the sketchbooks in her desk drawer–as he struggles to pack for a trip he can’t imagine taking without her.

Ella Burke delivers morning newspapers and works at a bridal shop to fill her days while she anxiously awaits news – any piece of information – about her missing daughter. Ella adjusts to life in a new apartment and answers every call on her phone, hoping her daughter will reach out.

After the sudden death of her father, Kirsten Bonato set aside her veterinary school aspirations, finding comfort in the steady routine of working at an animal shelter. But as time passes, old dreams and new romantic interests begin to surface – and Kirsten finds herself at another crossroads.

In this beautiful and profoundly moving novel, three parallel narratives converge in poignant and unexpected ways, as each character bravely presses onward, trying to recover something they have lost.

My Review of A Quiet Life

Three ordinary people dealing with extra-ordinary feelings.

It’s hard to describe the emotional intensity of Ethan Joella’s writing that impacts the reader from the very first sentence. It feels a bit akin to the sensation experienced stepping from an icy air-conditioned plane onto the tarmac of a blisteringly hot tropical country. This writer has the ability to floor his readers emotionally with visceral impact. Needless to say, I adored A Quiet Life and I’m aware that the following review will not do justice to the book. 

If you’re looking for a fast paced thriller or a violent crime novel, read something else. If, however, you’re looking for a perfectly crafted, beautifully written, insight into human nature that gets to the soul of who we are and how we think and feel, then read A Quiet Life. Ethan Joella explores grief, guilt, loss, love, family, happiness and relationships with such elegance, such emotion and such insight, his words are almost too hard to bear at times. Certainly there is crime and mystery here, and there’s romance and friendship too, but the events are almost incidental. It’s the diving beneath the skin of the characters, of learning about Chuck, Ella and Kirsten, their hopes and fears, that makes A Quiet Life mesmerising. It’s impossible to set the book aside without thinking about the characters between its pages, worrying about them and wanting them to be happy. 

That said, there is still a wonderful plot as the lives of the characters intersect so that it’s impossible not to want to know what will happen to Chuck, Ella and Kirsten. Each is searching for something, whether that’s a missing child, a casual acquaintance, forgiveness or a meaningful relationship and as their stories progress they begin to find not only what they are looking for but to discover themselves, to redefine and establish their own identities and to come to terms with their own flaws and those of other people. Through his characters Ethan Joella affords his readers the opportunity to reflect on their own lives and I’d defy anyone reading A Quiet Life to remain unchanged by it. Reading this book made me deeply sad and equally uplifted. 

A Quiet Life is outstanding because Ethan Joella has the most exquisite eye for detail. His descriptions are subtle and yet convey the deepest of meanings so that just one word can evoke a seismic reaction and understanding, making the narrative profound, hopeful and utterly beautiful.

A Quiet Life is a book about kindness. It’s a book about who we are, how we think and feel, and about the lives of ordinary people who appear to be living quiet lives whilst all manner of things may be going on in the background. Thoroughly entertaining and engaging, the story gently shows the reader how to live a better, more fulfilled existence. A Quiet Life will break your heart but will mend it better than it was before. I adored A Quiet Life. I’m adding it to my list of favourite reads of 2023 and I’m off to be someone’s cardinal as a result! 

About Ethan Joella

Ethan Joella teaches English and psychology at the University of Delaware and leads community writing workshops. His work has appeared in River Teeth, The International Fiction Review, The MacGuffin, Delaware Beach Life, and Third Wednesday. Lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with his wife and two daughters.

You can follow Ethan on Twitter @JoellaWriting, find him on Instagram or visit his website. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

8 thoughts on “A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella

  1. What a beautiful review, Linda. This sounds like such an emotional and poignant story, but dealing with issues that are real and relatable. This is one of the recommendations for my 12 friends, 12 books challenge and I am now looking forward to it more than ever. I will also have to add A Little Hope to my TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

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