REVIEW: The Choir on Hope Street by Annie Lyons
The best things in life happen when you least expect them
Nat’s husband has just said the five words no one wants to hear – ‘I don’t love you anymore’.
Caroline’s estranged mother has to move into her house turning her perfectly ordered world upside down.
Living on the same street these two women couldn’t be more different. Until the beloved local community centre is threatened with closure. And when the only way to save it is to form a community choir – none of the Hope Street residents, least of all Nat and Caroline, expect the results…
This spring, hope is coming!
Dear Ms. Lyons,
I read the blurb for this book and it struck me that it would probably be a “feel good” community comes together type of read. Yep, that’s pretty much it. I think it’s more women’s fiction rather than romance though it does end with a teensy, tiny flicker of a possible one.
Though it’s a whole group coming together for a joint effort, the story focuses on two of the women: Natalie and Caroline. Two people could not be more different. Natalie is wide open while Caroline is tightly controlled. They begin the book as nodding acquaintances as they live on different ends of the same street – Caroline is on the posh end while she thinks Natalie’s house is pokey – and their same age children are schoolmates. Caroline comes across as brittle and “all for show” while she thinks Natalie is an embarrassing slob. Nat does have a valid excuse as her beloved husband of 15 years has served notice on their marriage.
When the slightly tatty community center is threatened with demolition in order to squeeze in a few luxury homes, the citizens of Hope Street are stunned. It’s always been there and for Natalie was a lifeline when she was a new mother. Caroline views it as another thing to successfully manage along with rigidly running the school Parents and Teachers Association (PTA). Since Caroline used to manage 100 people in her cut throat banking job, she needs something to keep her busy besides shopping and other yummy mummy things. Looking for publicity, they decide to form a choir and participate in a contest along with other fundraisers.
Tensions are soon seething between Caroline and Natalie and their viewpoints on life. But their personal lives elbow in and upend them both. Nat struggles to understand her uncommunicative estranged husband while Caroline is forced to take her dementia suffering mother in after the care home refuses to let her stay due to disruptive behavior. Old anger and family secrets combined with a catty former school chum of Caroline’s and a possibly ruined gay best friend relationship of Nat’s to bring them to the breaking point. But the choir singing must go on.
I did care about these characters and followed the ups and downs of the fate of the community center. The story is nicely written and plotted but it felt very clichéd even as I was secretly grinning when one character or the other said or did what I’d wanted them to say or do. It was very Lifetime Movie Network scripted. I could tell just when a Major Event or Revelation was due and when the final conflict would arrive. The “tell off” speeches were sweet to hear and the changes in Caroline and Nat nice to see but it all felt “on cue.” Nothing surprised me. As a mindless beach read, it’s great but I doubt I’ll remember much about it. C+