The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan
I would like to thank HarperCollins UK for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.
"It was as if on the edge of manhood he too remembered everything we had shared, that he was the man who was still, in his heart, my little boy, late for school.
And then he was gone."
The Childbury Ladies' Choir is told in diary entry format, jumping back and forth between the diary entries of the different characters. This format took a bit of getting used to, it didn't lend itself well to getting to know the characters as individuals. The characters were initially just names at the top of a diary post, there was nothing there that allowed me to create a mental image of them as a person. I had to differentiate each by their voice and it took reading a good few entries from each individual character before I managed to match those voices to something a little more substantial than just a name.
Once I was able to separate the characters I was then somewhat able to slowly build a mental image of each from the bits of information scattered across all the different diary entries. However, the pieces were a bit too scattered and I couldn't build as clear a picture of each as I would have liked, and as a result, the characters never felt real. I was outside looking in, reading their stories from a distance rather than experiencing them. They were almost strangers, strangers that I knew by little more than their name, and because of this I never found myself becoming immersed in the storyline or characters enough that I reached that point of forgetting I was reading a story.
Despite the above, I did still enjoy the book and I did learn a few things. It was fascinating to get a peek into village life during the war, but I found it easy to put down. I also found myself thinking of other books or TV programs that I have watched that are set during the war, taking what I had read in this book and placing more memorable characters from other stories into their situation, or comparing them, which made me realise just how distant I felt from the characters in the book.
Like I said, I did enjoy it while reading, it was an OK read but not a great read. I'm hesitant to recommend it because if like me, you like to have a clear picture in your mind and want to immerse yourself in the story rather than watch from a distance, then this isn't the book for you.
Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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