With the men off to war, the Vicar of Chilbury has decided to shutter the local choir. But the women have a different idea. Together, with the help of an enigmatic new local music teacher, they form the Chilbury Ladies' Choir.
That's right, a choir featuring all women.
It may be unheard of, but in this time of need there's simply no other choice. And to be certain, this is indeed a time of need that calls for a choir. As the threat of war looms ever heavier over England as a whole, and the village of Chilbury in particular, music and the choir prove to be just the thing to keep up the town's spirits. And the women's spirits as well.
Told through diaries, letters, and the occasional local announcement, Jennifer Ryan brings Chilbury and its citizens into vivid life.
Our main narrators include Kitty Winthrop, an almost fourteen-year-old girl determined to become the best singer she can be; her sister, Venetia Winthrop, the village's seemingly remaining free-spirited troublemaker, who has her eyes set on a local artist as her latest conquest; Mrs. Tilling, a widowed nurse whose own son has just set off for the front; and Miss Edwina Paltry, a local midwife looking to make an extra pound any way she can.
Kitty and Mrs. Tilling have both begun journals as per the suggestion of the same radio program. (According to Ryan, this was a very real effort during WWII to chronicle the happenings on the Home Front during the war.) Venetia, meanwhile, keeps track of her efforts to woo an artist through correspondence with her friend, (who everyone agrees is a terrible influence) living in London throughout the story. And Miss Paltry keeps up her own correspondence with her sister, outlining a plot that becomes more complicated and troublesome as her part in the story progresses.
Together, and with a few extras, the happenings in Chilbury from March 26, 1940 through September 6, 1940 are outlined in great detail. And I do mean great. The characters run the gamut of personalities, ages, and social rank. We even get a bit of insight from a couple of men and a refugee who's been taken in as well.
And while the choir is much of the focus, it's really the framework for the larger story of England's WWII Home Front - the hopes and dreams and fears of a people at war and the ever changing social structure brought about by that war.
I quite adored this book! It is quite fabulous and heartfelt, making it the perfect read for any historical fiction fan. It's sweet, without being sappy, and it feels authentic in terms of both characters and scope. Definitely recommended!
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Jennifer Ryan and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble