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Jennifer Ryan (Chilbury Ladies Choir) Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Chillbury Ladies' Choir (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Spies of Shilling Lane (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Jennifer Ryan
Author Jennifer Ryan is originally from London, and once was an editor of non-fiction books, a job she had after she got out of college. As her writing and editing got better, she began to thread her way into writing fiction. Once she got married and moved to Washington, DC she started writing a lot. Taking time off from work to have kids, she found both the time and space to write her first novel.

She has long had a passion for the Second World War. Her cheerful and warm grandma would tell stories about the era, that were fascinating and funny and bases her work on these tales. At the start of the war, she was plump, pretty, and jolly and just twenty years old. Her life was changed, like many, during the war. She was engaged to a guy that had joined the army, but wound up breaking it off with him since there was tons of excitement to have for a young woman that there never was before.

During the research for “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir”, she talked to many old ladies about their memories during the war. It would make their eyes light up, talking about the topic. She would hear stories about affairs, dances, the gossip, unwanted pregnancies, the American boys, and how they would pull together because of the bombs. There was a lot of dancing and singing.

During this time, there were a lot of good times to go with the bad. Due to the fact that many women had to help out with the war, and gave them big jobs, something they hadn’t seen much of before then that made this period a great time in their lives. One woman became an engineer, designing plane parts and someone else became a senior nurse before being sent off to study medicine. This was all unusual for women during these times. That and the camaraderie and all of the fun they were having during this time.

There was even a group of women, that her grandma was a part of, who sang dreadfully. So much so that they were taken through each ward of the hospital to cheer them up.

Through her research, she wanted to immerse the reader in the era and the characters fully. This would allow readers to get into the ladies’ minds, as they read their letters and diary entries. Ryan read letters and journals that gave first hand accounts of the war, and she knew this way of telling the story would work. She finds something raw about a diary or journal that provides real insight into the fears and dreams someone has.

She was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award from Johns Hopkins in the year 2015. Ryan has had short stories published in different literary journals.

Her debut novel, “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir” was released in the year 2017. The book took her five years of extensive researching, writing, and reworking. Ryan writes historical fiction.

Her second novel, “The Spies of Shilling Lane” came to her in a big thwack of inspiration. The first draft of the book arrived right into her mind. In just six months, she was able to write the first draft, as she was just glued to her trusty laptop, anxious to see what would happen next.

Ryan’s childhood was made up of gallivanting around the countryside, often times on bikes, cobbling dams over trickling streams, climbing trees, and eating tomato and cheese rolls in red telephone boxes to get out of the rain.

“The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir” is the first stand alone novel, which was released in the year 2017. The book is told through many different diary entries and letters the women back home sent during the beginning of World War II. The village of Chilbury, located in Kent, is about to see some changes. The year is 1940.

Hearts are starting to break while husbands and sons are heading off to fight, and all appears to be lost after the Vicar closes the choir down until the men come back.

Coming together for a song is just what the Chilbury women need during these dark times, and they are willing and ready to sing. With some fighting spirit and a new musical resident’s arrival (Miss Primrose Trent), the choir is born again.

Some view the choir as a way for them to forget all of their troubles, and others see it as a way for them to shine. One villager, though, sees it as the perfect cover to ruin the new harmony Chilbury has found.

This is a book that totally engages the reader with the characters and the pressures they live with. Ryan infuses this story with humor, wit, and warmth and gives a wide range of different characters and the different issues and intrigues that can beset a community.

“The Spies of Shilling Lane” is the second stand alone novel, which was released in the year 2019. Mrs. Braithwaite, who appointed herself the queen of her English village, finds that she has been dethroned, dismissed, and despised after her husband selfishly decides to divorce her. Never one to be deterred, and the possible revelation of a family secret makes her step off to London for her to see her sharp daughter Betty and the only person she’s got left. She took work there when there were rumblings of war.

When she gets there, Mr. Norris (who is Betty’s timid landlord) tells her that Betty has not been there in days. And with the chaos of the bombs falling all around them, there is no telling what could have happened to her. Appalled, Mrs. Braithwaite sets her determination to finding her only daughter.

She storms off into the London Blitz, taking with her a reluctant Mr. Norris as her sidekick. Together, the put together Betty’s unexpectedly chaotic life. She is thrown into the midst of death and danger, and she has to rethink her old fashioned perspectives of class, reputation, and status. She has to reconsider a question that has left her puzzled since her world was overturned: How can you measure how successful your life is?

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