The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 May 2017

Member Reviews

During World War II on the homefront in England, a woman learns about life and love. The writing is very good. I found the story very moving and the characters believable.
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A sweet and staid historical fiction that keeps you interested but is not very memorable. Great village description, but forgettable characters.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Jennifer Ryan and Crown Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this publication, and allowing me to provide you with an unbiased review. 

"As all our male voices have gone to war, the village choir is to close following Cmdr. Edmund Winthrop's funeral next Tuesday. 
                  The Vicar"

Through notices, letters and journal and diary entries, THE CHILBURY LADIES' CHOIR unfolds the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of a village choir during World War II. Jennifer Ryan writes beautifully, painting detailed pictures of the settings and characters with her language and choice of words. I became immersed and entwined in the lives of the people in this novel. 
As England becomes enmeshed in the early days of World War II and the men are away fighting, the women of Chilbury village defy the vicar and form The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. This story tells the home front struggles of five unforgettable choir members: Mrs. Tilling, a timid widow who is devastated when David, her only son, goes away to fight; Edwina Paltry, a bossy conniving midwife trying to outrun her seedy past; Kitty Winthrop, thirteen-year-old with a crush on an older boy; Venetia, her beautiful older sister who is drawn to a mysterious artist; and Silvie, a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia hiding a family secret. 
I highly recommend this book! I give the THE CHILBURY LADIES' CHOIR a solid 5 stars.

Posted to Goodreads
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A sweet read, much in the same vein as "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society".  This is a cup of tea and a cozy blanket on a bad day kind of book.
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Set during World War II, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir shares the story of quiet English town. When the men are sent to war the vicar decides that the choir should be discontinued. However, a few of the women fought to keep the choir for the women. It is seen as a way to help raise spirits, share emotions and provide support and development. Throughout the story we meet the different women through letters, journal entries and diaries.

The author, Jennifer Ryan, uses these entries to show the warmth, schemes, wit, romance and adventures the women are in the midst.

Each of the characters were portrayed in such a way that I could understand the pressures each of them felt. There were the role models, those looking for love or financial security, and those that are looking for ways to set themselves up for a better life. I felt like this novel gives a good look at what women's lives were like at this time, including the challenges and how music and the choir became inspirations, a way to handle grief and more to each of the characters.

I feel like this book would be enjoyable to anyone who reads it.

I was given this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview this ARC of The Chilbury Ladies Choir.

With the promise of England's involvement in the war, Chilbury finds itself lacking greatly of men.  And what good is a choir without a men's section?  But with need of a group to boost the spirits of others who have lost, the Chilbury women gather to create their own choir, even though the idea is entirely too modern and unheard of.  

Enter a fun and interesting cast of characters, who tell their stories through letters, signs, and journal entries.  Done similarly to The Gurnsey Potato Peel Society, we hear all of the scuttlebutt that happens in Chilbury during the onslaught of the war.  There is joy, tragedy, scandal, and everything in between.

I ADORED this book.  Listening to it brings a whole different flavor, especially because the audiobook is so well done with a full cast.  I loved the characters, the lightheartedness, and even the heavy moments.  I highly recommend this book to all readers, it is a charming delight.
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Thank you for the chance to review this book, however, unfortunately, I was unable to read and review this title before it was archived.
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In the early days of World War II, Chilbury's Vicar has determined to shut down the choir due to the lack of men. The Chilbury women have different ideas. Resurrected under the direction of music professor Primrose Trent, the choir of Chilbury becomes The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.

I've been recommending this book to everyone who loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Set in England during the early years of World War II, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, like the Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows's book, is a epistolary novel told through letters and journal entries. It has a decidedly female perspective and follows the lives of several women in the village of Chilbury, from the daughters of the lord to the village midwife. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir also touches on the Battle of Dunkirk, which seems to be coming up a lot these days.

I loved Jennifer Ryan's debut novel. I really grew to love these women and their different stories. This novel was such a joy to read.
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The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is a stunning, beautiful historical fiction novel.

With the men of England off to war - a war that is too often seen near their own homes - the women of Chilbury defy a local Vicar's decree that the church choir should be silenced until the men return and instead use the power of their voices to lift up, and entertain the community.  They are emboldened when they enter a competition of local choirs and come away with a trophy.

But the book isn't about the choir as a unit, but it is about community and about the individuals who make up the choir and author Jennifer Ryan manages to bring us in and close to a number of different individuals who experience a series of trials and joys during these days of war (WWII).

The book is written as a series of letters, journal entries, and other forms of non-narrative storytelling (such as newspaper or flyer posts).  Normally I don't enjoy books done in this manner, finding the story-telling to be disjointed and un-focused.  But author Jennifer Ryan has managed to tell this story so smoothly that in thinking back on the book, I'm remembering the characters and the story but it was only when I reopened the book that I was reminded of the method of the story-telling.

Because of the method of story-telling, Ryan was able to get us directly into the heads of the different characters as they relayed their thoughts and desires and concerns in a straight-forward manner. Ryan also gives us different perspectives on the same issues as different people write about what is happening in the town.

I was really impressed with how much I related with this diverse group of characters - the majority of them women (given that I am a middle age male). I cared about them.  I got caught up in their lives.  I wanted to keep reading about them when I was finished with the book.

Often we read a book and get an interesting or well-told tale.  This book drew me and made me FEEL and that's precisely what you want in a book.  This is highly recommended.

Looking for a good book? The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan is an absorbing historical fiction story that will have you believing you know these characters personally.  It is worth reading!

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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A historical novel, set in the English countryside

After having read Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, I was interested in dipping my toes a bit farther into the historical fiction waters. And, as I’d hoped, this debut novel by Jennifer Ryan was exactly what I needed.


I have spent all of my life singing: grade school choirs, church choirs, fronting my science teacher’s band in 10th grade, vocal music courses, regional chorus, and finally, classical operatic training. I’ve done it all!


First person narration is my jam: even more exciting is when it is in the context of personal diaries and private letters.

With these things in mind, I chose not to look much more into it. Well, other than seeing a Goodreads rating of 4.08 when adding it to my currently-reading shelf.


It was beautiful to experience the feeling of community via choir through the eyes of Ryan’s characters. I find that, in times of war, there is a very strong push towards bringing communities together. We see this most often with tangible, practical efforts to better the day-to-day lives of those touched by the physical destruction brought by war: be it a family torn apart or the wreckage of towns.

I very much enjoyed reading about the affairs and intricacies of the women of Chilbury, which didn’t always directly relate to the war or the choir, but somehow always came back to the importance of both. With the war effort being fronted by the men of the community, it was very powerful to see how their women counterparts continued with their daily lives. With war in the forefront of their hearts and minds, with brothers and sons away or killed in combat, the women of Chilbury still manage to carry on with somewhat normal lives.

How refreshing it was to read through the perspective of different ladies in such different stages of life: from the younger generation, through Kitty and Venetia, to the older generation, through Ms. Paltry and Mrs. Tilling.

I was particularly enthralled with Mrs. Tilling’s character. To experience and grow with her was a real treat. I honestly found myself snickering and smiling every time we switched to her perspective. If Jennifer Ryan came out with “The collected diaries of Mrs. Tilling”, I wouldn’t be mad!


My toes are pruney and I’m dipping the rest of my feet and legs into the historical fiction waters. Thank you, Jennifer Ryan!
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Such a wonderful book!

Capturing the desperate times, the loss and grief that touched every corner of ' this sceptres isle.'  This novel really goes to the heart of things for women on the Homefront in WW2 England.
There's the microcosm view of society through village life (as Miss Marple always says)
The angry gentry in form of the Brigadier, the women of his household bullied and fascinating whose lives and secrets are pivotal to the novel. Then there's the village nurse and the midwife, the black marketeers,  the requisite domineering lady of the village and a host of others. 
There's the wonderful Miss  Prim who takes the village women from a subservient role of women knowing where their place is to one of active courage.
There's spies and romance.
The story is written in letter form, which adds to the drama and the feel of the era.
I was glued to every word and to every plot twist that fell off the page into my rather active imagination.

A NetGalley ARC
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I adored this book -- there are many books about WWII, and many about small town experiences, but to really capture the heart of a town, and of the individuals in it is a gift.  This was one of those books that I found myself thinking "I should call so and so, catch up with them . .  " and then remember that so and so was a character in the book I'd just finished, and not someone I actually knew.  This will be a book I can return to again and again.
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"The Chilbury Ladies Choir" by Jennifer Ryan is an absolutely delightful read. The story is told through journals and letters and is done so smoothly that I often did not realize it. The novel takes place during the beginning of England entering World War ll. This is definitely a different view of WWll and the effects of those waiting for the war to enter their hometown. The novel is both funny and witty and at the same time heart-wrenching and deeply emotional. The only downside to this novel that it ended too quickly. I could have kept reading about these women for another 300 pages. I am definitely looking forward to Jennifer's next novel.
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Historical fiction at it's finest! I loved this one!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found the characters to be endearing and the story line captivating. It was a delightful read, and I am happy to recommend it highly.
I recently watched the PBS series "Home Fires". "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir" reminded me of how much I enjoyed the era and setting-a small town in England during WWII. I found it to have much the same charm and a similar plot with strong and capable women finding ways to support their men and carry on in their absence.
Music transcends so many differences. The women in this story build on that to inspire and uplift themselves and those around them. They find a way to connect with one another that produced bonds and deepens friendships. I appreciated this and so much more in this book. I quite honestly am sad to say goodby to these fictional friends.
I thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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Secrets and the determination to go on without their men by their sides.. it made me step back into war time, to find that these women needed this choirs. It made them forget about just a little. And that they could do it without the men. Great book I highly recommend it to my friends.
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Thanks to Crown Publishing and Netgalley for an eARC of this book.

This is a charming, readable, entertaining, very British book about England during World War II. 
It is a book about Chilbury and it's choir which refused to give up when the men all went to war and it became the Ladies Choir. It is a book about the ravages and sorrows of war, the coming together of the women in a community to raise their voices in song and support one another in all things. It is a book about women who step up and find strength they never knew they had. 

The story is told by many voices. Each character is distinctive and very well developed in just these brief chapters that are drawn from letters, journals, diaries. All are amazing, likable individuals. I fell in love with this little village and the amazing women who lived there.
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Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. I savored these characters; their lives and their hardships; how they broke apart and came together; etc.
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I received a free copy of this book from the publisher on netgalley. 

DNF. I was bored and didn't love most of the characters or the writing. I have read and adored a few other similar type books focusing on women in Britain during WW1 and 2 so it wasn't the genre. it just didn't grab me but I'm sure it will be enjoyed by others.
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Loved it!  Highly recommend 

Book club pick 

So interesting
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