Review of “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir” by Jennifer Ryan

This lovely story is set in a small English village during World War II. Through diary entries, letters, and town notices posted from March through September, 1940, we learn what happened after the Chilbury village choir was discontinued by the Vicar since, as he contended, “all our male voices have gone to war. . . .”

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Some of the women got together and decided to form an all-women’s choir, an action which horrified others of the women, who hadn’t had much of a “voice” before the war and didn’t believe women should. But as Mrs. Tilling, one of the stronger characters, wrote in her journal:

“Perhaps there is something good that has come from this war: everything has been turned around, all the unfairness made grimly plain. It has given us everyday women a voice – dared us to stand up for ourselves, and to stand up for others. We have less to lose in this world of chaos and death, after all.”

The new women’s choir creates an esprit de corps and helps the members get through a series of upheavals in each of their personal lives. The choir becomes “almost like a family of friends and neighbors all standing by each other.” Moreover, they find music uplifts their spirits and consoles them in times of loss.

Although the story only takes place over six months, the war has a way of speeding up life, and the women go through a great deal of personal growth. They find a strength they never knew they had, and in a world where the ones you love could be lost at any time, they learn new ways about evaluating what is important, and what is not.

Evaluation: The characters weren’t always consistent; thirteen-year-old Kitty, for example, sometimes seemed thirteen, and sometimes twenty. Eighteen-year old Venetia went from shallow to deep pretty fast. But for the most part, you will be too enchanted with these “fierce and brave” ladies to quibble. Although it ends in September, it seems like the sort of book that would make a wonderful Christmas story.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, 2017

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6 Responses to Review of “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir” by Jennifer Ryan

  1. This looks like a good one.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    This sounds right up my alley.

  3. Kay says:

    I pretty much love any book that’s told in letters and diaries and happily, I already have this one to read soon. I think the whole premise sounds great. 🙂

  4. Aw, this sounds really fun. I know I am soft for epistolary novels, but even without that this sounds tremendously sweet. I am thinking of starting a “potential comfort reads” tab for my TBR spreadsheet, except I don’t know that you can really predict what will become a comfort read.

  5. Anita says:

    I’ve heard good things about this book. Thanks for reviewing.

  6. litandlife says:

    Darn it, I almost picked this one up but I was afraid it was going to be too “quaint.” Sounds just lovely!

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