The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir – Jennifer Ryan

Although not part of my normal genre choices, I had heard so many good things about The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir that I decided to give it a shot. I am so happy with that decision. At times sad but overall heartwarming, Ryan brings to life something that is often ignored when looking back on the history of World War II – life on the home-front.

the chilbury ladies choir

Resilience of the Choir:

I loved that despite the heartache and problems surrounding Chilbury, Kent, the choir went on. Leaders came and went, but the choir continued and even grew stronger. The descriptions of sounds the choir created with their voices were so beautiful you could almost hear them singing, such as this one:

Mrs. Tilling’s voice was superb, the mellowness deep and rich like a late summer’s night. She paused slightly before the high note, making it even more poignant, even more beautiful, and after that the notes seemed to flow like gold from her, straight from her heart. – pg. 111

With descriptions like that, I often felt like I myself was surrounded by a choir as I read.


Wonderful Cast of Characters:

The growth of individual characters – Mrs. Tilling or Venetia, anyone? was both astounding and wonderful. Ryan made me feel as if I truly knew these characters and how much they had changed. It was a little disheartening that some characters (I’m looking at you, Edwina Paltry) didn’t experience the growth of others, but that makes the story more believable. Not everyone changes.

Something I initially found odd but grew to love was the writing style. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir was written entirely in letters (some of which never received correspondence back such that we readers could tell) and journal entries. It really fits the tone of the story, however.

Ryan’s writing is so welcoming that it’s easy to fall into this story and forget the world around you. There are maps included but the recipes especially caught my eye at the story’s conclusion – they are a way to make the tale last a little longer, and experience history a little differently. Reading The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir was truly an immersive experience.


Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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