Friday, March 10, 2017

Dear Abby - Remembering Special Pets: Lili Marie

Dear Friends,

I have a special guest today.  Dianne is a great friend from a wonderful dachshund maillist.  Momma and I have known her for years.  She visited before to talk about Lili Marie and Miguel Luis.  Today she has returned to remember sweet Lili.

Abby:  Thanks for stopping by!  What pet would you like to remember at my blog today?   

Dianne: My sweet Lili Marie, a red smooth dachshund who was born on March 1, 2000 and went to the Rainbow Bridge on January 3, 2017. 

Abby:  What are some happy memories of your Lili Marie? 

Dianne: Lili made me happy all the time.  She was the sweetest dog but also a diva and it was clear she ruled the household.  Her brother Miguel Luis (black and tan standard dachshund) deferred to her in all things, as did I.  She always made me smile. 

Abby:  Do you have any funny anecdotes? 

Dianne:  She loved to dress up in her variety of girlie harnesses.  It was clear she loved pink (I tried to pass off a purple coat once, didn’t work) and when she got a new harness she would pose and strut around like she was modeling it.  I hated to see her arthritis advance to where I knew she was in pain most of the time. 

Abby:  I enjoyed visiting with you today.  Is there anything else about your Lili you would like to share? 

Dianne:  Lili gave me almost 17 years of love, joy and devotion and finally it was time to let her go.  I miss her so much.

Abby:  Dianne, thank you so much for visiting and sharing memories of Lili Marie here today.  She was a very special girl, and Momma and I loved hearing about her over the years in our online dachshund community.

Friends, you can leave messages for Dianne in the "comments" section below.   If you would like to visit and remember a special pet, please let me know, and also include your email.

Wishing you a good weekend!

Abby  xoxoxo

Book Review - The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Author Synopsis
“Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!”

As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead “carry on singing.” Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir,” the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit– a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past– we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life. In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the homefront, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.

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My Review
The Chilbury Ladies' Choir tells the story of a small village in England at the start of World War II.  As the men have gone off to war, life changes for the women in the village.  The choir is disbanded, but a newcomer to the village, Prim (Primrose), opens it again - as a ladies choir.  

This exceptional debut novel depicts the lives of the women of Chilbury together in the choir, and separately.  Each short chapter is told from a different viewpoint - journals, letters, diaries.  With this format I expected The Chilbury Ladies' Choir to be a leisurely read with a lot of quiet introspection.  Instead, the book took off with two very dramatic storylines that caught my attention.  One involved a beautiful young woman from a prominent family who found romance with a mysterious new man in town.  The other involved a midwife who would do anything for money.  I stayed up reading late at night and finished work early one day to read more as well;  this was a novel I could not put down.

The author does an exceptional job with characterization.  There are some remarkable characters here, like Mrs. Tilling, a widow who is better at nurturing others than herself, and Sylvie, a young girl who is a Jewish war refugee.

Most of all, this book has so much heart.  It is such a beautiful and ultimately uplifting novel about the power of the human spirit, the depth of good and purpose that ordinary people can find, and the joy of connection. 

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is a truly outstanding historical novel.  I still find myself thinking of the characters and the stories in this book as I go about my day.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Author Bio
Jennifer Ryan lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband and their two children. Originally from Kent and then London, she was previously a nonfiction book editor.

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I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours.