Jennifer Ryan’s debut novel, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, is among my favorite books I’ve read this year! Reminding me a little of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, this book is written as a series of letters, articles and diary entries during WWII.
The book is set in a small English village and shows how the women of the village cope with most of the men gone off to war. Due to the lack of men, the vicar disbanded the choir. Eventually, the women in the village decide it is their duty to keep things going, including resuming choir practice–with women only members. “It’s us women in charge now,” she said in more of her old cavalier style. “The Chilbury Ladies Choir will rule the world.”
From Jennifer Ryan’s blog: “At its heart, the book is based on my grandmother’s stories of the war, how women became stronger through the process of having to work and stick together. She explained to me, in her cheery, witty way, how women could get away with a lot more and had more bravado—after all, everyone was facing death or invasion. What did they have to lose? Women found new powers, through work and within society, due to the lack of men. Suddenly they were making their own decisions, allowed to set their sights beyond their households, coming together to stand strong.” And this book showed just that!
This book has a very entertaining cast of characters, and is delightful and charming; alternating with heartbreak and triumph, and revealing the strength of the human spirit. I was also excited to learn The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir will soon become a mini-series, from the producers of Downton Abbey!