A Quiet Life is an uncanny blend of the real with the imagined, of memoir with fiction. A Quiet Life is narrated by Ma-chan, a twenty-year-old woman. Her father is a famous and fascinating novelist; her older brother, though severely brain damaged, possesses an almost magical gift for musical composition; and her mother's life is devoted to the care of them both. Ma-chan and her younger brother find themselves emotionally on the outside of this oddly constructed nuclear family. But when her father accepts a visiting professorship from an American university, Ma-chan finds herself suddenly the head of the household and at the center of family relationships that she must begin to redefine.