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The Evening Chorus

The Evening Chorus

A Novel

Book - 2015 | First edition
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The story of James, a pilot struggling to survive in a German POW camp, his young war-bride, Rose, back in England trying to make sense of her life, and his sister, whose own story is also rewritten by the tragedies of WWII.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, [2015]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780544348691
Branch Call Number: FIC
Characteristics: 294 pages ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

Humphreys’ latest novel is told from several perspectives: RAF flyer James Hunter is a POW in Germany who develops a fascination for the songbirds beyond his camp enclosure; James’ wife, Rose, contemplates an affair with an officer more suited to her temperament; and, James’ sister, Enid, who liv... Read More »

Humphreys’ latest novel is told from several perspectives: RAF flyer James Hunter is a POW in Germany who develops a fascination for the songbirds beyond his camp enclosure; James’ wife, Rose, contemplates an affair with an officer more suited to her temperament; and, James’ sister, Enid, who liv... Read More »

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Feb 27, 2020

This was my first time reading this author. During the first chapter, I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue, but then I became very caught up in the characters and read the whole book in 3 days. I am now looking for her other books.

STPL_JessH Jan 04, 2020

This is a book for people who love luscious descriptions and enjoy reading for the pure pleasure of experiencing an artist at work. The first sentence, “James Hunter falls through morning,” is a brief yet profound testament to the quality of writing this short novel contains. There is such a contrast between descriptions of joyful dogs running free and wild, and the reality of characters who feel caged like bound animals. Each character is contained within walls both physical and emotional. Like the study of birds and flora James and Enid undertake, Evening Chorus is a character study. Readers explore close up snap shots of three individuals that are unique and similar in compelling ways. Perhaps the most apt description of this book is contained within the narrator’s depiction of the birdsong that enchants James: “the song of the redstart begins as a melody and ends in dissonance, as though the song itself comes undone in the process of singing it, finishing up with all the right notes presented in completely the wrong order” (page 21). I highly recommend this book as well as Lost Garden also by Humphreys.

This would make an absorbing book for a book club discussion. The young make choices, some good some bad. James chooses to become a pilot in WWII and is captured before he drops a bomb but spends his war in an officer's pow camp. Rose made a poor decision to marry James before he left for war but her infidelity while he was at camp hurt more than just James. Enid and Rose could have been friends but their timing was always off. They all end up with the right partner in the end, which brings a comforting closure for the reader.

Mar 31, 2019

I read this book without reading the synopsis and was initially disappointed to be reading yet another war/historic fiction. However, I was surprised at it. Many parts I found too descriptive and rather slow - the novel was highly character-driven, which isn’t my usual cup of tea. I did find the characters’ stories realistic and impactful, and enjoyed knowing what happened to them after the war. Though set during the Second World War, it felt rather current - Humphreys strategically places the reader at a somewhat bird’s eye view of each character. Humphreys succeeds in depicting the effects of war on humanity, and the latter‘s relationship to the natural world.

Nov 10, 2018

Although there are some beautiful moments in this book, I found the characters, settings, and plot to be flat, superficial, and often unbelievable. A character-driven book, this was also a problem for me as I could not warm up to any of the characters and found most to be unlikeable.

Sep 28, 2018

Sparingly, but beautifully written. A moving account of the effects of WWII on three related characters in the story. My first encounter with this author, but definitely not my last.

Jun 14, 2017

A melancholy book. Cleanly written and contemplative. It focuses more on the development of the 3 main characters than anything else.

Marlowe Oct 17, 2016

I wasn't sure about this book - bird watching during World War II didn't sound riveting - but I was very pleasantly surprised. This is a beautiful book that truly captured me. Humphreys gives us rich, deep characters, but doesn't reveal their whole lives. This is a snapshot of a specific time in space, and despite its brevity, you find a deep connection with the characters, and are moved by the events which unfold. Focusing on three main characters connected by blood, marriage, and circumstance, we see how nature connects us all, can revive us, and how war tears us apart.

Oct 17, 2015

Such a lovely book. A reflection of life, loves lost and trying to carry on appreciating the smaller things that life offers.

Oct 08, 2015

The Evening Chorus starts out well, with the newly married James Hunter taken as WW11 POW by the Germans. He is in a work camp, and spending much of his free time studying birds. Meanwhile James' wife Rose is living alone in a small cottage in the countryside of England. Feeling lonely, Rose falls in love with another man. When James' sister Enid loses everything in the London Blitz, Enid arrives to live with Rose. As you might imagine, while there is a certain friendship between the women, there is also a great deal of tension. All of this is in the front flap of the book, so I am not giving anything away.

The story started out well and grabbed my interest. Helen Humphreys is a beautiful and simple writer. Unfortunately for me, I found that as the story broadened out to include even more plot lines that I've described, Evening Chorus just was too diluted and failed to maintain my interest in the last third of the story. The book is small hardcover, with just 289 pages, which I think would be quite a bit shorter if the book was a normal size. Though all of the varied plot lines fell together, I felt it was not as engaging as it could have been if[Helen Humphreys had focused on fewer plot lines. You may love it, but I was disappointed, perhaps because I was expecting a riveting story similar to Coventry , which I think was a 4.5 or 5 star read for me. It is beautifully written, but somehow there was just not enough detail about each character or the later plot-lines to really grab my interest

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