Review of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir: A Beautiful World War 2 Story Told in a Unique Way

World War II happens to be one of my favorite time periods for historical fiction. There’s just something about the heroic actions and brave men and women who sacrificed so much. I love books that are written in this time period.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is one of these. It’s a beautiful story, told in a rather unique way. The story unfolds through diary entries, letters, and a few news announcements. This style makes for a very unique telling of the events surrounding a ladies choir in a small English town during the war.

Review of The Chilbury Ladies Choir

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About the Book

The Chilbury choir is going to be disbanded because of the lack of men. As men head off to fight the war, the choir is left without many of its singers. But Prim, the choir director, suggests that the village ladies go on singing in a ladies only choir. In fact, she wants their little group of ladies to enter a regional choir contest. The ladies agree, some with reluctance and some with interest.
As the ladies choir practices, stories about the some of the ladies begin to unfold through diary entries and letters. There are stirrings in the village- a domineering general, his devious plans, and his harsh treatment of those around him; a simple country artist who supposedly isn’t fighting because he’s a pacifist but who is much more than he appears; a conniving midwife who’s hoping that she can profit from the plans of others; a sweet, coming of age story; a story of a mid-life widow whose son just went to war.
The book is a beautiful representation of how the women, left at home, carried on with love and tried to sustain and improve their lives and homes in the midst of the horrors of war.

My Thoughts

I absolutely loved The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like the presentation style, the letters and diary entries jumping from one character to another. But as I continued to read, I loved it. It was a great way to get different perspectives of each of the characters as events unfolded around them.
The characters were also very well-developed through this style. In addition to the reader learning about the characters through the eyes of those around them, we get the opportunity to see through the eyes of several specific characters. And even though most of the “action” in the book is recounted through a diary entry or letter, the author does an excellent job in helping the reader to really see the events unfold.
At the end of the book, the author gives credit to her grandmother for many, many stories told of war times. She also mentions diaries and letters from women during the war time that have been saved for generations to come to read and get a glimpse of the war from the eyes of those women who were closest to it. Knowing that the author took her inspiration from these real life stories of the women who actually lived out the war makes the book even more dear. 
I cheered on the women and girls who were struggling to find happiness in a horrific time. I cried with those who lost loved ones, neighbors, friends. And I rejoiced in the little victories that came with people banded together, determined to continue to live while the war raged on.
I can definitely recommend The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. I give it five strong stars and a PG13 rating for content. (It isn’t Christian fiction, by the way- just general fiction.) You can find the book on Amazon here and read a sample from the Kindle preview below.

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