The village of Chilbury in Kent is about to ring in some changes.
This is a delightful novel of wartime gumption and village spirit that will make your heart sing out.
Kent, 1940. The women of Chilbury village have taken umbrage at the Vicar's closure of the choir now that its male singers are at war. But when spirited music professor Primrose Trent arrives, it prompts the creation of an all-female singing group. Resurrecting themselves as The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, the women use their song and unity to embolden the community as the war tears through their lives.
Dependable Mrs Tilling sees the choir as a chance to finally put herself first and a welcome distraction from thoughts of her son fighting on the front line. For Kitty Winthrop, the precocious youngest daughter of Chilbury Manor, singing is the only way to outshine her glamorous sister Venetia, who isn't letting the war ruin her plan to make every bachelor in the county fall in love with her. Meanwhile, when midwife Edwina Paltry is presented with a dastardly job which she's convinced will make her rich, she will have to misuse more than the trust of the choir's women to carry out her scheme - and nothing is going to stop her.
Filled with intrigue, humour and touching warmth, and set against the devastating backdrop of the Second World War, this is a lively and big-hearted novel told through the voices of four very different but equally vibrant characters who will win you over as much with their mischief as with their charm.
Choral music sung by Mums N' Roses, with musical direction by Craig Hudson
"I adored it, it made me want to sing with joy." (Alex Brown, author of The Secret of Orchard Cottage)
"Delightful...it manages to be sad and funny, exciting and heart-warming, all at the same time. Quite an achievement." (Barbara Erskine, author of Sleeper's Castle.)
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Liz on 06-03-17
This is a very simple story about a small community thrown upside down by the Second World War. It's a bit parochial, but a really good listen.
The characters are all well defined and recognisable with their personalities coming through loud and clear.
I guess it's a bit silly in places, but that didn't put me off, just made me smile.
The narrators are excellent, capturing the personalities of the characters just right.
But the really lovely part of the book is the choral music. Beautifully sung, these small excerpts of music gradually overtake the dialogue and I found it quite moving.
This is a lightweight book, no real cliff hanging, hold your breath moments- just a delightful story about a small community gripped by war.
Worth a listen in my view.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Abby on 30-03-17
Best book I've listened to so far! LOVED it
funny, heartwarming. great characters and read very well. loved the structure of storyline being told through letters and newspaper articles and diary excerpts. addition of choir singing was lovely too
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By magda flores on 21-03-18
I loved this book. These women were making the best life they could while the horrors of war surrounded them. A story of personal growth, heartbreak and friendship.
By Kathryn @theBookDate on 02-05-17
Enthralling from Beginning to End
I was totally in love with this audiobook book. It is a debut novel by Jennifer Ryan - I can only say it was enthralling. Set in southern England in a small village in 1940, it examines the life of the people as they start to face the reality of most of the men gone to war.
Up until now there has been a choir, but now with the men gone the vicar has cancelled the choir. But... soon the women are rallying around Prim the choir mistress and they are setting up their own group.
The story is told by four or five characters through letters and journals. However it is seamless and actually doesn't feel like letters and diaries. Rather the story told from different points of view. That's where the narrators come in, they do an amazing and outstanding work of bringing this book to life. By itself its a great story, with the narration absolutely brilliant. I see on Jennifer Ryan's website that the book has had the TV rights optioned by the makers of the makers of Downton Abbey. I sure have my fingers crossed that this will go ahead.
The characters are really interesting, they feel like real people, some of them are rogues and worse, one of them rather precocious but delightful, others kind and compassionate and already the war is changing many of them. The women are strong and resilient and were mostly a joy to follow, even the rogue amongst them.