Sunday, March 5, 2017

REVIEW: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
Author: Jennifer Ryan

In the early days of World War II, the Vicar in the village of Chilbury announces that the church choir will be disbanded because there are very few men left in the village. A newcomer to the village, Music Professor Primrose Trent, objects saying that music can bring the women of the village together and help them all get through the war. Under her expert leadership, the women band together and form the Chilbury Ladies Choir. They use their music and friendships to help get them through deaths, threat of invasion, bombings, rationing and all of the changes the war brings to their little corner of England.

The Chilbury Ladies Choir is a beautiful epistolary novel. The story comes to life through the letters and journal entries written by the women of Chilbury. The women share their fears, triumphs and challenges. Choir practices and performances bring them together and give them support and hope during a bleak time. One of my favorite scenes involves Prim Trent bringing the choir together to give thanks for the soldiers who have given their lives and to de-stress. Prim teaches the women about Gregorian Chant, and they sing together. Each woman left practice that night with peace and hope renewed in their souls.

This is a moving and beautiful book. It shows an entire village pulling together to survive war-time horrors. Some rose to the occasion and became a support structure for everyone around them, and others were pulled down into criminal activity. The book doesn't sugar coat the effects of war on village life, but shows the reality through the eyes of the women left at home.

I'm usually not a big fan of epistolary novels. But this one is well-written and wonderful. I highly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys historical or women's fiction.

This is Jennifer Ryan's debut novel. To find out more about the author, check out her website:

**I voluntarily read an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from Crown Publishing via NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.**

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