This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Jenny Banks
The small town of Bridgeford is in need of help. Amongst businesses closing down, commuters rushing to work and neighbours who don’t talk to each other, Bridgeford has lost its way. Community spirit is in low supply, but there is one thing that may be able to salvage the town: the Bridgeford Community Choir and their run at the county championship.
All Together Now by Gill Hornby follows the fortunes of the Bridgeford Community Choir, as it rises from the doldrums (and the perpetual Sound of Music medley). After a car accident leaves the beloved leader Connie in hospital, lovely busybody Annie, kind-hearted Lewis, and the other regulars join forces to cajole new members into attending. Tracey, described brilliantly as ‘one of life’s soloists’, and modest Bennett help bolster the numbers and breathe life and music into the choir.
All Together Now is an incredibly funny book. Hornby uses some great observational comedy and wit, and the book fizzes along on the rapier-like interactions between the choir members. There is some great banter and competition between the different choir factions, such as the altos and the basses. I was drawn into the book very quickly and found the narrative, particularly as it switches between the different characters, very compelling.
A lot of the comedy in the book comes from Bennett. Gentle and unassuming, and a former church choir-boy, Bennett might not seem like an obvious member of a popular music choir. He is guileless and kind, and too often undervalued. Life’s soloist Tracey has shut herself off from her neighbours and colleagues for years, ever since her secret past turned sour and she needed to look after her son, Billy. It is a surprise to Tracey that she turns out to be the great natural leader Bridgeford needs.
All Together Now perfectly captures both the power of music and people. Throughout the novel, Bennett, Tracey, Annie, and other choir members grow in their abilities, but also in confidence too. Bennett becomes the man about town, stopping the building of superstores and throwing parties until ‘silly o’clock’. Tracey stops shutting out her neighbours and realises life is better when you have someone to sing with. Annie too, away from being a put upon mother and wife, finds that she has a rather lovely voice.Community is central to the novel; Bridgeford transforms itself from a town without any pride to a place with spirit and soul. Life seems better when everyone is singing from the same choir sheet.
There are some nice touches after the acknowledgments too: a playlist featuring all of the eclectic songs in the book and the author has also provided the names of different websites to help the reader find a choir.
It is a brilliant book, full of enjoyment and humour from sharp, droll characters. All Together Now and the summer months will make perfect harmony.