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Publisher's Summary

"Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!"

As England enters World War II's dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar's stuffy edict to shutter the church's choir in the absence of men and instead carry on singing. Resurrecting themselves as The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves and the community as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit - a timid widow worried over her son at the front, the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist, her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn't understand, a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past - we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir's collective voice reverberates in her individual life. In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the home front, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.

This audiobook includes popular versions of classical music sung by women's choirs, including the songs "Abide with Me" and "All Creatures", "Ave Maria", and "The Lord's My Shepherd".

©2017 Jennifer Ryan (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"There's so much happening in Chilbury: intrigue, romance and an unforgettable cast of characters who aren't always as they appear. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is a charming slice of English wartime life that warms the soul like a hot toddy." (Martha Hall Kelly, New York Times best-selling author of Lilac Girls)
"Lyrical, poetic, emotional, funny, endearing, surprising - it is a masterpiece." (Veronica Henry, author of An Eligible Bachelor)
" The Chilbury Ladies' Choir sinks you deep inside the rich, intricate atmosphere of an English village in the middle of war, when quiet lives are upended and secrets unravel. With her unforgettable characters and vivid narrative, Jennifer Ryan creates the kind of wartime novel that plays out over the intimate territory of the human heart - full of soul, full of hope. You'll be thinking about this book long after the last page turns." (Beatriz Williams, New York Times best-selling author of A Hundred Summers and The Secret Life of Violet Grant)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A Romance

Ryan usually writes Contemporary Romance novels and, to me, this foray into Historic Fiction set in the early days of WWII Great Britain draws heavily on that style. It was all just a bit too heavy on the romance for me. The characters were often so thinly developed and stereo-typical that at times I had trouble keeping people straight. I agree with another reviewer--the time period was such a slim slice of history, so very early in the war, that I too wondered if this wasn't book one of a planned series? It was way too early in the war for all the triumph expressed--the book ends in fall of 1940 after all.

Some of the action was so improbable and unbelievable that I repeatedly deliberated about giving up on the book. In the end, it took me forever to finish listening and stay engaged. Honestly, I loved the premise of the story and had such high hopes. In parts, I thought Ryan did a good job capturing the feeling of what it is like to sing in a choir. I loved the idea of having an actual choir sing in the narration BUT then to ruin it by having the narrators read over the singing was just too much. What a waste.

Recommended only if you love romance novels in historic settings. I kept hoping it would become something more...it just never happened.







36 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good performances, slight characters

If you've read or listened to "The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society", and are expecting this to be similar, you will be disappointed. The story here is much less interesting, and the characters are underdeveloped. There is not a single character that comes to life, in spite of the best efforts of the narrators.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lee
  • Albany, NY, United States
  • 11-05-17

the story draws you in

About half way through the story I realized that I cared about these characters and wanted to know how their lives would progress. it provides another experience of the impact of the war on the women left at home, how they supported each other and gained in strength and capability.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Delightful!

Would you listen to The Chilbury Ladies' Choir again? Why?

There aren't many books I would listen to again, but this one makes the short list. Multiple narrators with very different voices, accents, and inflections along with a powerful story line make this a very entertaining and thought provoking book.

What did you like best about this story?

Strong females facing difficult problems working together and individually to solve them.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommend. The combination of great story and awesome narration makes this a wonderful audible book.

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I loved it!

What a refreshing story read by perfect voices! In these dismal days with uncertainty everywhere, it was a pleasure to spend a while in the little village of Chilbury during World War II. I think the audio perfectly fit this novel. Highly recommend it!

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Overrated book not far up from a romance novel

Shallow plot. Undeveloped characters. The story being told through verbatim conversations from letters and journals is a little much. Just don’t see why this was rated so highly. It is not much of a step up from a romance novel. Wish I had purchased something else

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Soap Opera via audio

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you're into a soap opera styled story, and like story lines that have 18 year old girls vamping any male that takes their fancy, and a midwife that switches newborns - "steals" them off their mothers at birth - for money then you'll love this book.

What character would you cut from The Chilbury Ladies' Choir?

Vanetia and the midwife.

Any additional comments?

I gave this 2 stars overall due to the talented narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 03-12-17

Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Voices

Not since the whole "Potato-Peel-Society" thing, have I liked a book of this sort so much. Told through journals, diaries, and letters, "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir" follows several different women, young and older, from all walks of life as they try to make their way through the new world of war and strife, of shifting values.
What I liked the most was the way the characters evolved in such believable ways; nothing was choppy or unrealistic. Childish Kitty does childish things... until she starts growing up and discovers there are consequences and sometimes, there are only hard choices to be made. The vain grow into themselves; the timid find their voices; the grieving find real solace.
This is a lovely book, sweet and unabashedly sentimental, filled with wonderful characters telling heartfelt stories of just trying to get along and find love within war-torn lives.

18 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A delightful story!

This is a lovely story about finding positive and brave women who face the challenges of war. The group of narrators give everyone their own voice and it is easy to be swept up in the various twists in the plot.

10 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • am
  • 09-07-17

Endearing plot and characters

This was a lovely story. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and it makes you smile a lot. As an audio book, it's fantastic.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful