The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

A Novel

Book - 2017
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"A delightful debut."-- People

For readers of Lilac Girls and The Nightingale , The Chilbury Ladies' Choir unfolds the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of a village choir during World War II.

As England becomes enmeshed in the early days of World War II and the men are away fighting, the women of Chilbury village forge an uncommon bond. They defy the Vicar's stuffy edict to close the choir and instead "carry on singing," resurrecting themselves as the Chilbury Ladies' Choir. We come to know the home-front struggles of five unforgettable choir members: a timid widow devastated when her only son goes to fight; the older daughter of a local scion drawn to a mysterious artist; her younger sister pining over an impossible crush; a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia hiding a family secret; and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past.

An enchanting ensemble story that shuttles from village intrigue to romance to the heartbreaking matters of life and death, Jennifer Ryan's debut novel thrillingly illuminates the true strength of the women on the home front in a village of indomitable spirit.
Publisher: New York : Crown, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781101906750
1101906758
Branch Call Number: FIC Ryan
Characteristics: 371 pages

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f
FabulouslyWeird
Jun 07, 2018

Historical Fiction is one of my favourite genres. It combines a good story with historical elements which add an added flare of realism to the story itself. I loved this book. I got into the story enough when a horrific plot of deceit was unleashed by father of an established home with a midwife of greed inspired motives. Each character has a real life essence that anyone could come across a character that they grow to love and another that they are not fond of. Being historical fiction it is a story based entirely on the writings of the characters either in letters or journals. It is an interesting format to have used but it created a world based entirely in Chilbury. Again I just loved this book.

samdog123 Mar 28, 2018

I've been reading a lot of books about WWII in the last year. Some have been better than others, but this one is right at the top of the list! A cosy little village called Chilbury is the home of women who are missing their husbands, sons and relatives. When a local music teacher suggests they form a choir, it enriches everyone's spirits and provides a sense of pride and accomplishment. The characters are terrific, especially Mrs. Tilling and young Venetia. Both grow by leaps and bounds throughout the book and I enjoyed reading about them every step of the way.

MVBOOKCLUB Mar 11, 2018

Wednesday members absolutely loved this booked. It has something in it for everyone. There is humour, sadness, hope and history using music and the choir to connect everything.
Sparked lots of conversation.

c
ConMartin
Dec 31, 2017

This was a light, enjoyable read about how the women in a small English village keep the home fires burning but without the depth (or editing!) of other WWII novels I have enjoyed this year such as The Alice Network or While Still We Live or The Women in the Castle.

Here is a link to my review: http://perfectretort.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-chilbury-ladies-choir-book-review.html

g
greenacres
Dec 05, 2017

If you enjoy WWII stories as I do, pick up this title. It's a light, quick read taking place just after Dunkirk; told mostly through letters and diary entries.

j
janciro
Nov 02, 2017

I expected something on the order of the British TV series "Home Fires'. This book is a rather tacky soap opera.

Ditto comments below from wyenotgo Ottawa Public Library. Great background but not great literature.

w
wyenotgo
Sep 27, 2017

A quietly enjoyable book, immersed in its environment (small town, South of England, WW2) featuring a collection of local characters. A very promising concept, a choir becoming the emotional center for a community under stress. Unfortunately, I found the story to be overly romanticized, full of clichés and the writer, in undertaking to tell the story through many voices, overreached, i.e. not all of them rang true, especially that of Kitty, the 13 year old, using language and imagery in her "diary" that no one would include at that age. And the ending was wrapped up altogether too neatly. Accordingly, 2 1/2 stars.

h
hilln
Jul 12, 2017

This is an enjoyable quick read. The epistolary style of narrative gives voice to the disparate main characters and propels the plot along nicely. As witnesses to and participants of World War Two are passing on or superannuated, this book is a reminder to modern readers that we cannot take our comfortable lifestyles and personal freedoms for granted.
My biggest quibble with this book is with a number of overlooked details that were not corrected or edited out prior to publication. The most egregious of these errors pertain to the musical references which, for a book with the word Choir in its title really should have been caught. Anyone who has ever sung in a choir would recognize that choral conductors do not use batons. They use their hands to get maximum expressiveness from the singers (The only exception to this is when the choir is singing with an orchestra. ). As well, the author mentions many hymnbook standards that are arranged for four parts (soprano, alto, tenor and bass or SATB). For women's voices these vocal lines would need to be carefully arranged for SSA or SSAA. Arranging music is a time-consuming and demanding art which usually takes an expert musician such as an organist or pianist to accomplish. I personally found the musical content to be disappointingly slap-dash which bothered me as I read the book. As well, there were a number of anachronistic words and phrases such as "wimp". Finally, the baby switching plot was simply daft, especially as it came to nothing.
Other recent WW2 novels I've read which are far superior in terms of historical accuracy and just plain better stories are: The War That Saved My Life and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and to a slightly lesser extent The Nightingale. Be sure to check these out too!

c
claire1953
Jul 07, 2017

I really enjoyed this book which makes for a great and quick summer read. Focusing on an all-female choir created because men were at war, Jennifer Ryan's main characters come alive through their journals and correspondence. With the Second World War as a backdrop, it shows how good can come amidst the dreadfulness of combat and attack by the enemy. The story also shows how some individuals had to grow up quickly following their trials and tribulations. The author was also creative in weaving a story which takes place over a six-month period of time!

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SPL_Brittany Apr 03, 2017

While their men are off fighting the Nazis, the women in the English village of Chilbury struggle to carry on. Among the many changes that WWII brings to the little village of Chilbury is the demise of the church choir since all the men are away. With no choir, the women of the village band together under the leadership of spritely Miss Prim, and form the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, and use their joint song to lift up themselves and the community, as war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and diary entries written by several members of the choir and others from the village, Ryan gives each character a distinct voice. Among the members are Mrs. B who is both strong-willed and opinionated, and opposes the choir from the beginning; Timid Mrs. Tilling, a nurse and widow whose only child has been sent to fight in France leaving her bereft. Scheming Miss Paltry who is involved in a plot with the local aristocrat. There is beautiful Venetia Winthrop, eldest daughter of the aristocrat and village flirt; and Sylvie, a young Jew and refugee from Czech Republic who holds a mysterious secret, as well as a host of others who illuminate the true spirit of women on the home front.

Chilbury Ladies’ Choir will charm readers with its humour and dialogue, moving seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. Readers who have enjoyed the tight knit community of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, village life of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, and The Postmistress are sure to enjoy this novel.

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