The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 May 2017

Member Reviews

I am very sparing with my 5* reviews, but this book captivated me. The more I read, the more I became engrossed. England, early WWI, the men are off to war and the women won't be stopped in forming a women's only choir--what?! 

Every character [and there were some "characters"] was well drawn. Of course, I LOVED some more than others.I could go on and on about the inhabitants of this village but suffice it to say my favorites were Kitty and Mrs. Tilling. 

Letters and journals tell this charming, well-written story. A gentle, poignant book with both humor and pathos. Sometimes I chuckled while reading; other times I felt heartbreak. Although I guessed the trajectory of most of the story lines [often a point detractor for me], since I loved the book so, it didnt matter.

I heartily recommend this book.
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I very much enjoyed this book.  At first I wasn't so sure, but I soon became involved with the characters and wanted to find out what would happen to them.  Problems arose, characters changed and grew--usually for the better.
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Perfect for those readers who loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The story is told through the diary entries of teenager Kitty Winthrop, journal entries of Mrs. Tilling, town nurse, diary entries of Polish/Jewish refugee child, Silvie, letters between Venitia Winthrop (a young lady on the cusp of adulthood) and her friend Angela Quail (working in London in the War Office), and letters between Miss Edwina Paltry (town midwife) and her sister Clara. The story enfolds with WWII underway and nearly all the men of the village off fighting. The vicar wants to discontinue the choir due to the lack of men, but the feisty ladies of Chilbury decide to carry on with the help of music teacher Primrose Trent. They begin practicing, but there's plenty of turmoil between members, and as the story progresses we see the choir pull together to support each other in more ways than one. It's a great illustration of the "pull yourselves up by your boot straps" mentality that existed at that time in history. The story gives a snapshot into the life of a small English village and the author was able to tie in real historical events to create authenticity. I cheered on the characters, shook my head incredulously at some, and shed a few tears for others. This was a lovely, warmhearted tale.
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I was drawn to this book because it was described as a book for those who enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and I can see why it was described that way. Set in 1940 in southern England, the small town of Chilbury is being changed by the war against Nazi Germany. At the beginning not much has changed except for the loss of most of the men in the town as they have been drawn away by the military and war related business. The local church's vicar has said that the church choir must be disbanded because there will be no men in it (although it turns out there weren't that many men in it anyway). In the first of many new things the women rebel and decide to have an all women's choir (they are helped by a new resident and wonderful musician Prim who will head the choir).
    This book is told in many chapters, each one a separate resident's letter or journal (people have been urged to keep journals to help their moral). This book was conceived by the author from her grandmother's stories of being a young woman in England during WWII and how life was so different ( and exciting) at that time. Although a novel, the truth of the experience shines and it was especially interesting to realize that many British thought they would be invaded by the Nazis. Intellectually I realize that was true but only knowing about this period in hindsight (and how Britain was not invaded) I didn't realize how great a worry it was.
    There are many characters in the book but Mrs. Tilling, local nurse and one of the most trusted residents, rises to the top. There's a war on but life does go on and as with most places there are good people and bad -- and often they are the same person. It is easy to get caught up with all of the residents and it only covers part of 1940. It would be wonderful if there was sequel.
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