Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

Sunday 24th March 1940. The vicar places a sign on the door of the village hall - '"As all male voices have gone to war the village choir is to close". Fortunately for the local community, the ladies of Chilbury decide to form an all female voice choir, an exercise that provides strength and purpose not only to the choristers in trying times but also to the people who listen to them sing.

The novel chronicles the lives of the women in the choir through their writings in their journals as well as correspondence. The story is therefore unveiled primarily through the voices of five of the choir members, sisters Venetia and Kitty Winthrop, Miss Edwina Paltry, Mrs Tilling and a refugee from Czechoslovakia, Sylvie. The background to the story is the effect of the early stages of World War II on this village in Kent and the nearby town of Litchfield which houses a military base. The five month period of the storyline include the Dunkirk evacuation and the commencement of the Battle for Britain. The women, however, find strength in singing together plus a purpose other than just surviving.

This book, published in 2017, is Jennifer Ryan's first novel and I would be surprised if there is not more than one sequel to this title in the future. Those who enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society will enjoy reading this book. This book will also be popular with book clubs. There are already a number of pages on the Internet providing discussion group questions for this book.

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