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Publisher's Summary

Featuring specially-recorded choral music!

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

©2017 Jennifer Ryan (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"I am completely and utterly in love with this book. What a joy! It may be in my all-time top five - I just adore every single thing about it." (Jill Mansell)
"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.)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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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.

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  • Liz
  • 03-06-17

Delightful

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Pat T
  • 03-13-17

Superb

I loved this book. It had me laughing, crying and entertained me throughout. It was good to have World War 2 presented from a female perspective and in such an entertaining package. The performance of the readers matched the script, brilliant.

I would highly recommend this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • SueF62
  • 04-30-17

Mixed feelings

Any additional comments?

Maybe it's because I listened to this straight after Big Little Lies but I found myself equally enjoying this book and being irritated by it. The passages about the effect of the war on the women of the village are moving and thought provoking, so the somewhat ridiculous storylines that run alongside them don't sit comfortably. I also don't like all of the performances, they are over the top in some cases, and I am sure there are phrases that are used which wouldn't have been around in those days. And I hoped for more singing based on the comments I read before buying it. However I have finished it so that must be some kind of positive recommendation!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon Jones
  • 04-08-17

Totally Enthralled!!!

A wonderfully evocative tale of village life during the outbreak of WW2.. Tears & laughter throughout. A brilliantly woven story of written in letter/diary style, i found myself eagerly pressing the 'play' button to find out what each character was up to next !!! Thank you

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate
  • 04-05-17

Fantastic, light listening

Having listened to lots of very 'worthy' things lately I was in the mood for something well written, but lighter in content. This didn't disappoint. Lighthearted, romantic and well paced this book ticked all my boxes. The performances worked well together and I didn't mind the slightly stereotypical characterisations. I will be recommending this to others.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Rogayah
  • 04-04-17

If music be the food of love...

This is a wonderful feel-good story of the women of a Kentish village who loose the church choir at the start of WW II, form a ladies' choir under the baton of Prim and despite hardships, uncertainties and growing pains find themselves. Written in the form of journals and letters by various characters it is a rounded, amusing and tragic record of events. The inclusion is music sung by a real ladies' choir makes a welcome and delightful novelty.

With all the recent commendations of events of both the world wars in is good to recognize the effects of war on life in an English village.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Abby
  • 03-30-17

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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicola
  • 03-04-17

Brilliant story

I couldn't stop listening to this amazing story. Excellent narration throughout. From laughter to tears it had it all as well as good old patriotism. However it was the strength and determination of women that made the story so poignant. Go girl power!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Lorraine
  • 06-27-17

loved it!

It was a wonderful story made all the better by having different narrators which really brought the characters to life. I was sorry when it finished!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • WomanOnTheVerge
  • 03-27-17

Very enjoyable

I wasn't sure if I'd like this book as it's not the sort of thing I'd usually choose. It was an 'Editor's Choice' and caught my eye for some reason.
The story is engaging without being overly sentimental or dramatic. The narrators were all excellent and listening was a pleasure. The plot ticked along nicely and kept me interested. All in all, a lovely listen!
I'm very glad I gave it a try.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • carole martin
  • 05-20-17

The Chilbury Ladies Choir

Made a nice change from the usual books I listen to - a "light" no stress

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  • Helen Fearn
  • 05-15-17

Ooh what annoying characters.

The yelling actors are awful. Not comparable to Guernsey Literacy Potato Peel Pie Society. Ugh!

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  • helen lamb
  • 04-09-17

World war 2 from the ladies point of view.

I loved this book I am glad that I listened to it on audible I think I got a better idea of the different personalities I am sad it is finished.