Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir - Historical Fiction Review

Rating: Loved It!
Source: Library (Audio)

  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.

In the idyllic village of Chilbury change is afoot. Hearts are breaking as sons and husbands leave to fight, and when the Vicar decides to close the choir until the men return, all seems lost.

But coming together in song is just what the women of Chilbury need in these dark hours, and they are ready to sing. With a little fighting spirit and the arrival of a new musical resident, the charismatic Miss Primrose Trent, the choir is reborn.

Some see the choir as a chance to forget their troubles, others the chance to shine. Though for one villager, the choir is the perfect cover to destroy Chilbury’s new-found harmony.

Uplifting and profoundly moving, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR explores how a village can endure the onslaught of war, how monumental history affects small lives and how survival is as much about friendship as it is about courage.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:

My Impression: 
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was one of my favorite books last year so when I heard the comparisons to that book in reviews of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir I knew I couldn't resist.  There's definitely a similarity.  Both books are epistolary made up of letters and journal entries.  Both books take place in England around World War 2.  And there the similarities end.  The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is very much its own book.

Our four main characters are Mrs Margaret Tilling, a widow whose only son just left for war, Kitty Winthrop, a 13 year old girl who loves singing and is convinced she has her entire future figured out, Venetia Winthrop, Kitty's 18 year old sister who is beautiful and fully aware of it, and Miss Edwina Paltry, the scheming midwife.  None of these characters are particularly likable at the beginning.  Mrs. Tilling is dreadfully weak and wishy washy, Kitty is such a child, and Venetia and Miss Paltry are just plain awful.  But as the book went on things changed within the characters just as much as the world around them was changing and I grew to love them (well except for Miss Paltry though I did feel sorry for her).  I don't want to say too much about what happens in the book because watching events unfold is part of the magic.

While the format is epistolary and we really only see through the eyes of Mrs. Tilling, Kitty, Venetia, and Miss Paltry, with occasional mentions from Silvie (the little girl refugee who is staying with the Winthrops) and a few other characters, the village of Chilbury really comes to life.  I'm not sure that the journal entries really read as journal entries but they showed the personality of the writer and told their version of events which is the main point.   The story went along seamlessly with each account weaving into the other.  I had to laugh at a few things and there were several times I was very glad my mascara was waterproof.

Now that it is over I will miss these characters and wonder what will become of them next though I'm not worried for them.  While not resolved I loved the ending and I was left with hope and happy tears.

The audio was read by Gabrielle Glaister, Laura Kirman, Imogen Wild, Adjoa Andoh, Tom Clegg, and Mike Grady.  They all did a fantastic job and their voices were perfect for the characters they were portraying.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  This was lovely.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Not only would I recommend it but I've actually already it given it as a gift to several people!


  1. I’m glad you liked this book, I thought it was great. Well written and kept me engaged. It’s a favored era for a setting for me.

  2. Sounds like you really enjoyed this one!

  3. I really want to read this book and think I'll check and see if my library has it on audio. I love epistolary novels and the Guernsey book was a big favorite of mine from a few years ago.

  4. I really want to read this now! It sounds wonderful and I love the fact it's centered around a choir.

  5. So happy to see you loved this book, it certainly does stand very much on its own and needs no comparisons. I thought the audio narrators did a fantastic job too.

  6. I adored the audiobook - especially when they added the music of the choir! We need a sequel!

  7. I'll have to add this one to my list. Great review.

  8. I've heard really good things about this one. Glad you enjoyed it!