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The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

Relationship Stories   Family Drama   Historical Fiction   If You Like...You'll Love   Reading Groups   eBook Favourites   Romantic Fiction   
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An engaging and charmingly bittersweet slice of fiction set during the Second World War. In a Kent village during 1940, the vicar closes the choir, as the ladies of the village start their own choir, the small rebellion creates a chain reaction within their hearts and minds. The war lurks in the background, it’s presence undeniable, yet this tale almost feels timeless. The story is told in a variety of methods, from journals, diaries and letters, to newspaper articles, notices and telegrams. The author Jennifer Ryan creates a beautiful balance in this tale, gentle humour sizzles alongside slicing reality, and a spoonful of love helps proceedings along very nicely. We are allowed to see into the souls of the characters, and yet the gaps are filled in by the telling observations of others. Soft and gentle, yet cutting and knowing, ‘The Chilbury Ladies’s Choir’ is an absolutely gorgeous debut. ~ Liz Robinson

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Allison Batten - 'Touching WW2 story that I looked forward to reading each day. A gem of a book, highly enjoyable and moving.'
  • Lesley Hart - 'A romp through a village during WWII and the determination of its lady choir not to be dictated to, when their menfolk go to war. Told through letters and diary notes, it is a wonderful uplifting story.'
  • Sarah Hamid - 'A heart-warming novel, told cleverly through diary entries and letters.'
  • Celia Cohen - 'I loved this a mixture of fun, sadness, intrigue and tragedy and is so skilfully written that you will not be able to put it down.'
  • Catherine Jenkins - 'nuanced and unpredictable, with plenty of intrigue. Fans of Downton Abbey will find much to enjoy here.'
  • Melanie Chadwick - 'Filled with humour and a great cast of female characters, The Chilbury Ladies Choir is uplifting and warming like an old-fashioned sing-song.'
  • Angela Rhodes - 'This is a book so full of life and great characters, you will not want the book to end, and will long for a sequel.'
  • Christine Waddington - 'I found it a very entertaining read and look forward to reading more from this author.'
  • Pam Woodburn - 'This is a charming book with a wealth of engaging characters.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This felt like reading juicy gossip and it was fabulous! There was all kinds of love being thrown about with abandon, lies, danger and hopes and dreams too.'
  • Jan Kirkcaldy - 'Birth, death, romance, intrigue and German bombs came to Chilbury to create a great story of a village at its best and worst.   It was a joy to read. I loved it.'
  • Hannah Brittlebank - 'This is the very light, readable story of a group of women in a small Kent village, set during the summer of 1940 and told through their letters and diary entries.'
  • Sharon Lowe - 'It was funny, sad, thought provoking, and a thriller all wrapped up in one novel.'
  • Sandra Rabiasz  - 'Set in 1940, this is a story of the home front, told with charm and appeal through the eyes of the Chilbury Ladies Choir.'
  • Carolyn Huckfield - 'This is a beautiful and self-assured first novel.'
  • Ann - 'An entertaining story set in a Kent village in WW2 about a group of ladies who form a choir and learn to rely on their own strengths.'
  • Joy Bosworth - 'Slow and then breathtakingly fast.'


The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

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.


'The writing glows with emotional intelligence. This atmospheric debut, based on the author's own family history, had me sniffing copiously Daily Mail

'I am completely and utterly in love with this book. What a joy! It may be in my all-time top five - I just adore every single thing about it' Jill Mansell

'I adored it, it made me want to sing with joy' Alex Brown, author of The Secret of Orchard Cottage

'Delightful... it manages to be sad and funny, exciting and heart-warming, all at the same time. Quite an achievement.' Barbara Erskine, author of Sleeper's Castle

`Lyrical, poetic, emotional, funny, endearing, surprising - it is a masterpiece
Veronica Henry, author of How to Find Love in a Book Shop

`I adored The Chilbury Ladies Choir! The pages sing with such wonderful characters, and through them wartime England really comes alive. Warm, witty, touching and uplifting, I will be recommending this to all my friends Hazel Gaynor, author of The Girl from the Savoy

About the Author

Jennifer Ryan

Jennifer Ryan grew up in Kent and now lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and two children. She was previously a nonfiction book editor. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is her first novel.

Author photo © Tony Awad

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Book Info

Publication date

22nd January 2018


Jennifer Ryan

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The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


464 pages


Relationship Stories
Family Drama
Historical Fiction
If You Like...You'll Love
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites
Romantic Fiction

Historical fiction
Classic fiction (pre c 1945)



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