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Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan and The Superintendent's Daughter by Marjorie Eccles

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer L. Ryan is set in the small English village of Chilbury.  Since the lack of men during the war has had a huge impact on the choir, the decision is made to disband the choir entirely.

Until, that is, the vibrant Primrose Trent arrives and manages to persuade the women to continue the choir without men.  Primrose is actually the most vibrant character, but she gets very little time in the novel.

A bit of romance, family dysfunction, switched babies, spies, and more.  Told through letters and journals--and you had better keep track because sometimes you have to check to see which character is writing.  The midwife's letters are probably the least believable, but she does have a recognizable voice.  

Entertaining, but not The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Read in July; blog review scheduled for Jan. 26, 2017.

NetGalley/Crown Publishing

Historical Fiction.  Feb. 14, 2017.  Print length:  384 pages.

Whew!  I read The Chilbury Ladies' Choir  6 months ago and have had it scheduled since last summer!

Back to more recent books...

I looked for a better cover for The Superintendent's Daughter, but couldn't find one.  This one has little to do with the content.  I have not read any other books in this series, although I read and enjoyed another book by Eccles several years ago.

Registering under the name of Julia Mayo, Kat checks into a country house hotel where she is murdered in short order.  When her body is found, Superintendent Gil Mayo is notified and arrives horrified at the idea.  His fears are dispelled when he discovers that the body is not that of his daughter, but sadly, that of Julia's best friend.

Mayo is excluded from the investigation because he is too close to the situation, but since he is unable to locate his daughter, he proceeds on a separate and parallel search to locate Julia.

The novel begins with a letter from Kat to Julia--and is quite slow.  The information in the letter(s) provides information that will be useful later, but does not intrigue as it was intended.  Nevertheless, the plot does pick up, and Eccles deftly introduces the characters who could be guilty of Kat's murder.  

Sometimes having a number of suspects feels contrived, but the way the suspects are introduced makes each one a genuine possibility, and I suspected each one without ever being confident.

Initially,  I was not even certain whether Kat or Julia was the intended victim.  

Recently republished.

NetGalley/Endeavor Press

Crime/Police Procedural.  1999. Jan. 13, 2017.  Print length:  248 pages.


  1. I've read a couple of other reviews about the Ladies Choir book. Most seem to think it's a nice book and I'm always interested in books told in letters or diary entries. I'll pick it up at the library if I see it.

    The Eccles book sounds interesting, but again, would pick it up if I see it at the library.

    1. My main problem with this one is that the "voices" in the letters are not distinct. The content is different, but there is little in the style to separate individuals.

  2. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir sounds kind of fun; and I do love epistolary novels. It's too bad that Primrose doesn't get as much time as it sounds like she deserves in the book. Why do authors do that?

    1. I'm fond of epistolary novels, too. Primrose was the most charismatic character! Maybe authors don't always realize that they have created a kind of counter interest when they create a character. Primrose could have had a book of her own.

  3. I have The Chilbury Ladies book on my Kindle so good to know you have to keep track of characters - I find it harder to do that with Kindle reads so I better pay attention! Haven't read any of the Eccles books but I'm curious to check them out.

  4. I had to keep looking back at the chapter heads to see who was speaking/writing. Sometimes the content let you know, but not always. :o

  5. I'll have problem keeping track if I'm reading an e-book; that's why I still prefer to read a print copy. ;)

    Both of these books sound interesting, though. Will have to check them out.