BOTM April 2018: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

BOTM April 2018: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

March 29th, 2018, 8:14 pm #1

How would you rate The Chilbury Ladies' Choir?

Total votes: 8
4(50%)
3(38%)
1(13%)
0(0%)
0(0%)

April's Book of the Month is:

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan



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. 

371 pages; published 2017

Discussion will begin on April 18
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

April 1st, 2018, 6:16 pm #2

I got the audiobook from the library and will listen soon, but not too soon.  If I listen too early, I forget everything before discussion starts.  Sigh.
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DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

April 2nd, 2018, 6:46 am #3

I forgot to mention that if you have a choice between the audiobook and the written version, then I would recommend the audio version of this story because each character is narrated using a different voice, which really brings out their personalities.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

April 2nd, 2018, 11:53 am #4

Oh good!  Glad to hear the audio is good since that's how I planned to experience this book. :-)
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

April 2nd, 2018, 4:02 pm #5

I finished this lovely book and am looking forward to the discussion.  The audio version sounds like it would be delightful, but I won't have the time.  
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Lady Jayne
Clan Fraser
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 7:41 pm

April 3rd, 2018, 6:11 pm #6

For once I am ahead with the BOTM reads. I am looking forward to our discussion of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.
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Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

April 4th, 2018, 2:19 pm #7

Great tip about the audiobook! I was going to start the printed version, but went ahead and borrowed the audio from the library instead. Looking forward to it!
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

Just another reader with a blog... check it out here.
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Joined: October 12th, 2016, 1:49 am

April 6th, 2018, 4:02 am #8

Tickled pink. I have requested the audiobook because of  your tips. I might get to ride a few extra kilometres on my exercise bike as well. 
Fabulous.
Looking forward to it.
Heather
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DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

April 18th, 2018, 6:46 am #9

Discussion now opens on The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.

I loved this story, particularly listening to it on audio, with the different voices. (But I sent the CDs back to the library and now cannot remember some of the characters' names - sorry!). I particularly liked the character of the younger sister, who is so wrapped up in herself, and cannot see that her love for Henry is not reciprocated. She reminded me a lot of Flavia de Luce in the Alan Bradley series of books. I was waiting to see how the baby swapping episode would resolve itself - she was very lucky that she was able to do the switch without anybody noticing. I'm glad that Rose ended up with her real mother; I hope the boy does not grow up too sickly. 
It was interesting that the story revolved around coping with life in the war. The actual war was in the background for the most part, and we just saw the effects of it on the characters.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

April 18th, 2018, 1:26 pm #10

Thanks for the recommendation of the audiobook, DLT. I ended up listening and finished a couple of days ago.  I liked hearing the difference voices and the short clips of the choir singing at the parts of the story when the Chilbury Ladies' Choir was singing.

I enjoyed Kitty too, but I hadn't thought to compare her to Flavia.  I can see your point, though, now that I think about it.  I like listening to the Flavia books, too.  In fact, I'm next up on the wait list for the most recent one.

You mention about the baby swapping being resolved, but I wondered what would happen when (and if!) Hattie's husband (Victor?) came home.  My best guess at the moment is that he'd either be killed, or decide that he can't take care of Rose, so leave her with the family that currently has her, which, it turns out, is her real family anyway.  I also home that the other baby gets healthier and grows up happy.

I knew from the moment of their awkward first meeting that Mrs. Tilling and Colonel Mallard would end up together.  But, that was OK.  I was happy when things were working out at the end.  I liked Mrs. Tilling and appreciated how much she grew and changed and found her inner strength throughout the book.  I think Kitty grew a lot too.  As did Venetia.  That was one of the things I liked about the book was how these women were finding themselves and their strength which was, in part, because the war had taken so many of the men away.  And, so I agree that the war was much more a backdrop than a big part of the story.

I was so sad when Prim and Hattie were killed.  I wasn't too surprised about Hattie because in terms of the story and the babies, it kind of made sense to let Rose end up with the Winthrops.  But, I hadn't expected Prim to go, or at least not that soon.  It did allow for Mrs. Tilling to take over the choir, which required her to stand up to Mrs. B, so that was a big growing experience for her.  I understood it once I got to that part, but was surprised at the moment it happened.

The scene when Venetia was singing and Alistair (sp?) returned and was in the back of the hall, reminded me of a similar scene in Downton Abbey, in case anyone remembers that.

Was the Brigadier still living with his family by the end?  Clearly his wife and daughters were defying him and no longer frightened thanks to Mrs. Tilling threatening to expose his part in the baby swap.  But, was he still living there and accepting that they were doing things he didn't like, such as taking in another baby (his own!) and Venezia marrying someone he considered unsuitable?

Henry turned out to be more of a jerk than I expected early on.  Mind you, early on, I also hadn't put together that he was Mrs. B's son, so knowing that I wasn't as surprised when he showed some less-than-admirable qualities.  I kept wondering if we'd see more of Mrs. Tilling's son (whose name is escaping me) and how he has also changed due to the war.  We saw briefly that he had more self-confidence at his going away party, but I thought he may have changed much more after actual fighting. I suppose the book was really about the women and how they were changing more than about the men, though.
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

April 19th, 2018, 12:21 am #11

This was a pleasant, enjoyable read.  

I liked the format of the letters and journal entries.  It reminded me of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"

I couldn't believe that women couldn't have a choir without men.  I was glad they had one anyway.  I was so sad when Prim and Hattie were killed.  I rolled my eyes when Edwina's parts came up.  She sounded so nefarious in a wicked professor sort of way--rather cartoonish.  

I had a feeling that Alistair would turn out to be the good guy.  Colonel Mallard knew but couldn't say.  
Mrs. Tilling was a great character.  I felt bad for her loss and how she resented the Colonel sleeping in her son's room.  In the end, the two needed each other and it was rather sweet.  I was also glad to see that Mrs. Tillings came around  in the end; and I liked how she was suspicious of that dreadful Edwina.  Ugh!  

Thanks for choosing this book.  I understand there is a sequel coming up, or rather J. Ryan has been asked about it.  I think it would be fun to read what comes next in the lives of these characters.  
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

April 19th, 2018, 1:43 am #12

Oh yes!  Thanks for mentioning "Guernsey" NigheanDubh.  I noticed similarities with that book too.  Both the letters/journals format.  And, the creation of a group during the war for people to get together that hadn't existed before or at least not in that form.  I forgot to mention it when I posted, but had intended to, so I'm really glad you did.
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DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

April 19th, 2018, 3:25 am #13

Yes, I thought of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society too, when I listened to this book. In the case of the Guernsey book I both read it and listened to it, but enjoyed the audio version much more with the different voices, and I think that is what makes The Chilbury Ladies' Choir so much fun to listen to, as you can imagine the different characters through their voices. I liked Mrs. Tilling the best, and the way she was able to take charge when there was nobody else.
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Suec
Clan Fraser
Suec
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 25th, 2012, 9:08 am

April 20th, 2018, 5:40 am #14

I liked this book but felt the baby swapping and subsequent blackmail was a little far fetched.
It had a claustrophobic small village feel to it commencing with the divisions between the landed gentry and the normal villagers and as the war progresses the gradual shift to a slightly more equal way of life. I loved the difference the choir made to both Mrs Tilling and the other ladies.
I could see this novel being made into a tv series as a cosy village life thriller . It kept reminding me of the Midsummer Murders series shown on UK tv .
I’m seeing the film version of the Guernsey Literary etc book next week. The trailers looked good .
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DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

April 21st, 2018, 6:57 am #15

Suec wrote: I’m seeing the film version of the Guernsey Literary etc book next week. The trailers looked good .
Is that a TV series, and if so, is it limited to the UK? Or is it a movie?
I'd love to see the film version; I imagine the landscape would be quite striking.
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