"Compelling and exquisitely wrought." BookPage
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As England becomes enmeshed in the early days of World War II and the men are away fighting, the women of Chilbury village forge an uncommon bond. They defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to close the choir and instead “carry on singing,” resurrecting themselves as the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.
We come to know the home-front struggles of five unforgettable choir members: a timid widow devastated when her only son goes to fight; the older daughter of a local scion drawn to a mysterious artist; her younger sister pining over an impossible crush; a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia hiding a family secret; and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past.
An enchanting ensemble story that shuttles from village intrigue to romance to the heartbreaking matters of life and death, Jennifer Ryan’s debut novel thrillingly illuminates the true strength of the women on the home front in a village of indomitable spirit.
"A delightful debut."
“There's so much happening in Chilbury: intrigue, romance and an unforgettable cast of characters who aren’t always as they appear. 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 and Lost Roses
“A novel set in a time of war to a tune called pleasing.” –New York Times Book Review
“Compelling and exquisitely wrought…Ryan has crafted a riveting debut novel that is certain to resonate with readers on both sides of the pond.”
“This well-written and absorbing tale will stay with the reader for a long time to come.”
“Jennifer Ryan’s charming debut interweaves many women’s voices to create a strong chorus that rings out with heart and the celebration of life. . . . Fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the TV series Home Fires should put this uplifting, absorbing novel high on their reading lists.” —Historical Novels Review
"These strong, unforgettable characters will keep you reading late into the night. I could not put this wonderful book down."
— The Missourian
“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 The Summer Wives
“In turns charming, humorous, and truly heart breaking…The reader is immediately drawn into the story from the first journal entry and will want to read it all in one sitting.”
—San Francisco Book Review
Quotes from the book
"If we don't think about our death until we die, how can we decide how we want to live?"
"But if we don’t think of our death until we die, how can we decide how we want to live?”
"Human nature defeats me sometimes, how greed and spite can lurk so divisively around the utmost courage and sacrifice."
"I realized that this is what it’s like to be an adult, learning to pick from a lot of bad choices and do the best you can with that dreadful compromise. Learning to smile, to put your best foot forward, when the world around you seems to have collapsed in its entirety, become a place of isolation, a sepia photograph of its former illusion."
"Thus it was that a shuddering chorus of twelve deeply saddened women, singing at first softly, then more resolutely, advanced slowly down the aisle. We sang as if our lives depended on it, as if our very freedom, our passions and bravery were being called forward to bear witness to the atrocities that were placed before us. We were united and strong, and I knew right there and then that nothing, nothing could ever break the spirit of the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir."
“It’s us women in charge now…The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir will rule the world.”