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The Chilbury Ladies' Choir: A Novel by…

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Jennifer Ryan (Author)

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26711342,587 (4.11)34
Title:The Chilbury Ladies' Choir: A Novel
Authors:Jennifer Ryan (Author)
Info:Crown (2017), 386 pages
Collections:Your library, Read, Read in 2017, Historical Fiction, NetGalley
Tags:Historical Fiction

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The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan


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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Thank you librarything.com for sending me the advanced reader's copy of The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan in return for my honest review,
I loved this book. The story was engaging. The format of the novel was unique. Letters, diary and journal entries from various characters were used to tell the tale of how an all female English choir, in the middle of WWII, transformed the singers and their community, making them stronger, more compassionate and more protective of one another during a frightening historical period.

There was intrigue, romance, deception and compassion. Prim the choirmistress and Mrs.Tilling were my two favorite characters. This author is a gifted writer and there were many passages that brought tears to my eyes because her words felt so real and so true. For example, when Mrs. Tilling had to say goodbye to her only child, David, who was leaving to fight in the war I was overcome with emotion.

The choir plays a very important role, but my only criticism would be the scant references to the choir. It came together too quickly and their success was almost immediate. The choirmistress arrives; she is just what the Village of Chilbury needs, but little is learned about her despite her extraordinary presence and impact.

I am a difficult reader to please. I want a substantial, cohesive, original story; one that is hopeful, but not saccharine sweet. I want interesting characters with depth and who evolve throughout the course of the novel. I like good to prevail and evil to lose in a very big way. Although this novel didn't satisfy every demand on my list, it came very, very close, and that is good enough for me. I enjoyed getting lost inside of this book and I hope that you will too. ( )
  2LZ | Apr 25, 2017 |
A novel about women in the early days of World War II. The men have gone to war and so the choir is to be disbanded - that is until the women decide to carry on themselves. Letters and journals tell the story of various choir members and how they deal with the challenges and losses that this period in history brings. The choir is central in providing a support to each other and to the community struggling on the home front. An introductory note explains how many of the stories within the book are based on true stories that the author uncovered while researching the book. Good read. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Apr 24, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This one reminded me quite a bit of the beloved [The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society] book I read a few years ago, except that the focus is a ladies choir, rather than a book club. It's an early World War 2 story set in an English village during the summer of 1940 and told through letters, diaries, and journals of five women in the village.

I’m a sucker for this kind of book and absolutely loved it as the focus shifted from the womens' personal lives to the war, and then the impact the war had on them. Wonderful, well-drawn characters.

I would love to see more of this kind of book from this author. Highly recommended!! ( )
1 vote lindapanzo | Apr 24, 2017 |
The parallels between this book and [book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society] are obvious – both epistolary novels about women on the homefront of England as WWII heats up, telling the story from several women's points of view. Here there is a choir instead of a book club, but it is the story of villagers coming together to endure the horrors of the war at home.

Regardless, though, this is a lovely book. The likeable characters are very likeable, and the unlikeable ones are truly loathsome (at about the halfway point I was all but praying for the death of one). The women's individual voices as evidenced in letters and journal entries are fairly distinct, especially the youngest, Kitty, the precocious had–been–youngest child of the local blue bloods. Her voice might be a little too precocious, a little too adult, in its language, but its attitudes are pretty much dead on.

Except … I continually find it deeply frustrating that girls and women who know better engage in the sort of behavior Lavinia (?) does. "I'm being careful", she says. And then she is shocked – shocked, I say! – when after sleeping with her inamorato every chance she gets she finds herself – gasp! – pregnant. Never saw that coming! Passion. I get it. I do. But for heaven's sake, why does "passionate" automatically mean "stupid"? I mean, if you go to the worst part of town and leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition, you have basically requested that your car be stolen. If you drink for several hours and then weave your way out to your car, you have tacitly agreed to having – or causing – an accident. If you decide to play golf with some nice metal clubs in the middle of a thunderstorm with heavy lightning, you have indicated your willingness to be struck by lightning. And if you have unprotected sex with someone who just doesn't care … well. The girl is young – but she's not stupid, and – as evidenced by her comment about being careful – she knows that sex leads to pregnancy, unlike girls left in ignorance in previous centuries, when sex was too awful a subject to be discussed and so girls really are shocked by what that nice man wants to do and by the result. Just once, I feel like I'd like to see a reaction from someone more along the lines of "Welp, that was predictable."

But, still and all, it was a very enjoyable book, slotting neatly into the shelf next to "Guernsey", with enough of its own personality to remain discrete. "We have prayer enough to light up the whole universe, like a thousand stars breathing life into our deepest fears." Nice. Very nice.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review. ( )
  Stewartry | Apr 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
First of all I need to mention that I received an ARC of this book from The Library Thing for which I am very grateful. It is a book that I wanted to read because of its comparisons to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and because it concerned music and the home front during WWII. The book really held my attention and was most enjoyable to read. The fact that it was a compilation of letters and diary entries allowed the reader to become familiar with the characters. However, it lacked the depth of Guernsey, and parts of it were more of a soap opera than I expected it would be. The switching of the two babies was pretty far fetched. And I would have preferred more concentration on hardships on the home front rather than on romances and pregnancies. Still it was a good light read. ( )
  borealis07 | Apr 22, 2017 |
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To my grandmother, Mrs. Eileen Beckley, and the women of the Home Front.
First words
First funeral of the war, and our little village choir simply couldn't sing in tune.
But if we don't think about our death until we die, how can we decide how we want to live?
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Book description
amazon ca :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 homefront, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.
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