February 2017 Indie Next List
“This gorgeous novel grabbed me from the very first page with laughter and kept me hooked with characters that are vivid and lovable. As each woman shares her place in the intrigue, romance, sorrow, and friendship of Chilbury and World War II through letters and diaries, their lives become increasingly real, until you can hardly believe this is fiction. At the center of the story is the indomitable Chilbury Ladies' Choir and when their individual triumphs and sorrows wind together during their performances, Ryan's writing reaches a soulful crescendo that will continue to echo in readers' hearts. Fans of Helen Simonson should not miss this beautiful debut.”
— Grace Wright, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
"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 homefront, 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
Cast of Narrators:
About the Author
Jennifer Ryan lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and two children. Originally from Kent and then London, she was previously a nonfiction book editor.
"A delightful debut."
"This well-written and absorbing tale will stay with the reader for a long time to come."
"Compelling and exquisitely wrought."
"These strong, unforgettable characters will keep you reading late into the night. I could not put this wonderful book down."
— The Missourian
“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 bestselling 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 bestselling author of A Hundred Summers and The Secret Life of Violet Grant
“World War II in an English village seen through the eyes of the most delicious cast of characters you’ll ever meet—The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is a masterpiece of secrets, misdirection, village gossip, and gleeful disregard for anything but the main chance, as the Home Front learns to carry on. Seldom do you find a writer with such a deft touch—Jennifer Ryan sweeps the reader along to the very last page in a remarkable debut. “
— Charles Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge series