Online Book Club: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan 4


Welcome to the online book club for The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan. I hope you enjoyed reading this book. I really enjoyed how this story developed and flowed.

You can discuss the questions in the comments section below on the blog or join us on Facebook.

Thanks for joining us! May’s book will be Sweet Water by Christina Baker Kline with discussion on May 31. More details are on the Online Book Club page.

  1. What is your favorite moment from the book? Least favorite?
  2. Overall, did you like the book? Why or why not?
  3. Did you like the insertion of letters and diary accounts or did you find them distracting?
  4. Who was your favorite character and why? Your least favorite and why?
  5. Military wives understand the experience of all the men leaving for deployment. Have you experienced that? If so, how did the women come together? If not, how do you think you would deal with that kind of situation?
  6. Mrs. Tilling, Mrs. B, Venetia and Kitty all change a lot during the course of the book. Which do you find most believable?
  7. Do you think the book would have worked without the scheme of the baby-swapping?
  8. In a time of war, are music and the arts a waste of time or vital? Why?
  9. What’s a question I didn’t ask that you’d like to discuss?

Thank you for reading with us and stopping by to discuss The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan!

Join us in May to discuss Sweet Water by Christina Baker Kline!


About Sarah Anne Carter

Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Family life keeps her busy, but any spare moment is spent reading, writing or thinking about plots for novels.


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4 thoughts on “
Online Book Club: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan”

  • Sarah Anne

    1. My favorite: “As I walked, I found myself thinking about how my view of the world has changed. Fancy me giving a viscount a few strong words! And defying the law – taking a decision into my own hands to help this wounded man. Perhaps there is something good that has come from this war: everything has been turned around, all the unfairness made grimly plain. It has given us everyday women a voice – dared us to stand up for ourselves, and to stand up for others.” -Mrs.Tilling
    My least favorite: the baby swapping

    2. I really enjoyed this book! 🙂

    3. I think this book did it very well. The characters were developed quickly so I could easily switch between point of views.

    5. When there would be squadron deployments, we would all try and keep each other busy and check on each other more often. There was definitely a sense of community and coming together when “all the men were gone.”

    8. I think there are important during wartime for many reasons ranging from creating a sense of normalcy to documenting what is happening to giving an escape.

  • Brenda Carlson

    Favorite moment – When Prim conquered Mrs. B and the latter grumpily joined the choir

    Least favorite – anything that had to do with the baby swap and ugly communication from the midwife to her sister

    Overall, yes, I liked the book. I felt it was missing something, but haven’t been able to put my finger on it.

    Literary device of using letters and diary entries was interesting. First, this seems to be a new device as similar strategies were used in two of the other books we’ve read together. Second, in this case, the author used diaries and letters as primary sources in her research for the book, so it made sense for this work. Each chapter (diary or letter) was clearly identified, so it was easy to follow. I also thought the author made good use of the various perspectives at the right times in the story.

    Favorite character – Mrs. Tilling. I felt that her personal development was a little quick, moving from quiet, unassuming mouse to community dynamo in a very short period of time. Maybe war will do that. But she was ready to grow and change and I appreciated that.

    Least favorite – the midwife and the Brigadier. Both conniving and evil.

    Military families – When I was trying to figure out what was missing, I searched here first. I wondered if the raw emotion of a loved one (a son) away at war was raw enough. Also I wondered if the horror of the bombing was horrible enough. I read back through Mrs. Tilling’s diary, but I still can’t put my finger on it. I wondered if a research/non-fiction author may have missed the emotional descriptions a little. What do YOU think?

    Character believability – Yes, all of them changed very much. I think Kitty may have been most believable. Her survivor attitude had been developing throughout her life as an abused child. In some ways, she had no fear, which allowed her to step up confidently. Also, she had the support of Prim and Mrs. Tilling who believed in her and developed her natural abilities.

    Baby-swapping – That whole series made me a little ill. I didn’t even want to read those letters. I think the book would have worked, but the evil nature of the Brigadier may have needed to be demonstrated some other way. Also – it did give Mrs. Tilling a new sense of power that did contribute to her development in standing up to the evil.

    In war, the humanities are vital because they address the soul which is vulnerable to fear. Art and music provide distraction and outlet for the tender and raw emotions stirred by the vulgarities of war.

    • Sarah Anne Carter Post author

      I think you’re on to something with how she dealt with her son being gone. Although, they didn’t have 24/7 news access like we do now. Their reality was that it took a long time for news to come. Plus, detachment can be part of coping.
      But, the bombing was probably the most significant part of the story of the town and it seemed like it just happened. I know after reading this book and another one that described bombings in London, it made that part of history more real to me. The other book made it more grim.