Book Review: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Goodreads Summary: ” “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.”

As a choir singer myself, I am already of the belief that music can bring people together and… I spent a lovely weekend rediscovering that feeling in the quaint town of Chilbury. Jennifer Ryan’s novel creatively captures the way music can lead us all through the hard times. What propels this tale is the characterization – as the women of Chilbury face the perils of wartime, Ryan so aptly develops her characters – even the minor ones that you feel immersed in the town. I truly felt that I was a fly on the wall – learning the gossip, the love stories, the family drama, and the tragedies of the women in this town.

I was particularly struck by the way that Ryan was able to demonstrate the women coming into their own – a feminist movement of sorts. The women of this town learn how to gain confidence in themselves first as a women-only choir, then in their own lives. It is still a poignant reminder during our own tumultuous times of the strength of women and how they should not be discounted.

4 stars from me!

**I received my copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to the author and publisher for this opportunity.**
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