The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review by Cathy)


About the book:
“Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!”
As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead ‘carry on singing’. Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir”, the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.
Told through letters and journals, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit — a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past — we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life.
In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the home front, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.
My review (5-stars)
One of the most cleverly written books I’ve read in quite sometime. The author introduces her readers to the characters by using letters and diary/journal entries.
There’s a lot going on in the village of Chilbury and it requires the women to come together as most of the men have gone off to war.
From the choir, to everyday life they find themselves engaged in each other’s lives in ways they never imagined.
The age groups of the characters were wide-ranging and added different perspectives.
I found myself drawn to different characters at different times, making it difficult to have a favorite due to the issues each faced.  From young love to finding love later in life, abusive relationships and  other scandalous behavior this book touches on many realities.
There’s so much going on in the village that I kept reading as fast as I could because the story is interesting and held my attention throughout.
This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be the last.
It’s a different from what I normally read and I’m glad I chose it.
I received a complimentary copy of The Chilbury Ladies Choir from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

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