The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

Crown. Feb. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9781101906750. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101906767. F
It's 1940, and the European continent is being overrun by Hitler's troops. In Chilbury, Kent, England, the women are doing their best to maintain morale and that includes keeping the choir going despite the lack of male voices. Mrs. Tilling is a nurse whose son is about to leave for France. She is keeping a journal, as does young Kitty Winthrop, just 13, but her entries relay a good deal of what's happening. In fact, the entire novel is composed of journal and diary entries, notices, documents, and correspondence. An unscrupulous midwife enters into a nefarious plot with Brigadier Winthrop. Kitty's older sister, Venetia, is playing a dangerous game by seducing the artist Mr. Slater. Within six months, the village undergoes many changes as war edges closer to home. Unfortunately, debut author Ryan miscalculates the credibility of her novel's structure and her narrators. Would the vile Miss Paltry reveal her illegal dealings in letters to her sister? Would Venetia be injured by an errant bomb and still find the wherewithal to pick up pen and paper?
VERDICT The stalwart ladies of the choir deserve better. Not a necessary purchase. [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/16.]
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