Book review: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir

Jennifer Ryan dedicates her wonderfully warm debut novel to her grandmother, Eileen Beckley, and the women of the Home Front — whose incredible stories she has woven together into a beautifully life-affirming tale of the power of community spirit in the constant fear of war. 

Book review: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir

Jennifer Ryan

Borough Press, £12.99;

ebook, £6.99

She harnesses the epistolary form to great effect, allowing each of her female protagonists to have their own voice, through their letters and diary entries.

It begins with a funeral and a notice pinned to Chilbury village hall noticeboard stating the village choir will close as ‘all our male voices have gone to war’.

It ends with an unexpected wedding and a choir of ladies who have banded together to support each other through love and loss, childbirth and a village bombing.

The descriptions of the togetherness of a choir are spot-on, but the only slightly jarring note is the volume of dialogue written in letters, without which much of the action would be difficult to convey.

Impressively researched and tender debut.

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