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The Choir

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,656 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
In the rustic town of Aldminster, a crisis looms. Funds are short and the cathedral is in need of major repair. Some hope to finance the work by abolishing the costly boy's choir-while others are aghast at the idea. Drawn into the fray is Sally Ashworth, the lonely mother of a ten-year-old chorister. She is anchored only by her unexpected love for the brilliant choirmaster ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 2nd 2002 by Berkley Trade (first published 1988)
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Rating details
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Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-authors-q-t
Joanna Trollope seems to have found herself a niche, but her work divides readers. She is highly acclaimed on the one hand, and has won awards including the "Best Romantic Novel of the Year" (in 1980 for "Parson Harding's Daughter") yet is also dismissed by others for writing so-called "aga-sagas". Notwithstanding, I thought I should try her for myself.

The Choir is another early work from 1988; one which I have read twice. It is well written and there were surprising references to "The Warden".
La Tonya  Jordan
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to La Tonya by: Palladium Bookies
Shelves: good-read
You have intrigue, church politics, community politics, and human emotion in the small town of Aldminster, Great Britian just outside of London, England.

The cathedral is worth saving for it highlights the beauty of the town. It is the main work of the bishop, dean, and all who work for the church. But, the choir is a long standing tradition and should it be saved at the expense of the cathedral? That question will test family relationships, friendships, and one's faith with God. For Leo Beckfor
The novel was thoroughly readable but for me somehow never quite escaped an aura of soap opera about it and certainly a fair dollop of sentimentality and old lace. I also felt that it was written rather too obviously in the shadow of the author's grandfather and the Barchester Chronicles; but arguably that is like criticising the leopard for his spots. The tale and the way it is told a polite and quietly asserted encomium for a more polite and more traditional society, for a certain Englishness, ...more
Rebekah Es
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Boring story about selfish people.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't have thought of myself as a likely Joanna Trollope reader, but I'm a sucker for books set in the closed world of cathedrals or choirs, and this combines both so I thought I'd give it a go. I have to say that I really enjoyed it. This was Trollope's first novel writing as herself, published in 1987. Thirty years on, the story it tells of hard-pressed cathedrals having to make difficult choices between maintaining their historic fabric and continuing their unique and ancient choral trad ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Close” Encounters and Clashing Wills

This mesmerizing novel reveals public and private feuding
behind the seemingly serene grounds of an English Close—lands adjacent to the Cathedral. Conflict arises on several fronts: the ridid,
domineering Dean wants his own way and instant obedience in all matters: related to the cathedral repairs, the choir’s very existence and oh yes—his unsuccessfully urbane marriage. Next we meet the dedicated but harried Head Master, Alexander Troy (whose wife has disapp
Kate Hewitt
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I recently reread this after 15 years and found it did not hold up as well as I expected, although I still enjoyed it. I find the characters in Joanna Trollope's books to be amazingly unlikeable, and the style of storytelling which, fair enough, might have been more the thing when this was written, involves a lot of telling and very little dialogue. However, the machinations of the dean and all the people who get involved in saving the choir makes for a good read.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
only read half. Puzzling as Carol and I usually like the same books. Couldn't like anyone. I suspect someone who's involved with church choirs might like it more.
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Too many characters, perhaps, and not enough plot, but gods, so well written.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reminiscent of Susan Howarth this was a change from the usual family sagas of this author. Here too human relationships formed the keynote part of the book but shadowed by the Cathedral, the Bishop, the Dean and the choir.

The cathedral is facing financial hardship. Like all old stately buildings maintenance is key, this has been neglected or not seen and the end result is an enormous outlay needed. On the other hand the choir has been an integral part of the Cathedral but it is also costing a gr
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joanna Trollope's "The Choir" had been on my "to read" list for sometime. I managed to find a copy in a used bookstore a while back and with choir starting up again, it seemed the right time to pick it up. The book deals with the choir school tradition in England, something we're not blessed with in North America, but the book asks about the relevance of traditional church music. A question that has not disappeared in the ensuing 30 years since the book was published, and one that is certainly n ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Character Study

If Goodreads could use half-star ratings, I would have given 3-1/2 stars, only because the story-telling seemed rather remote from the feelings of the characters (which are developed very well). Perhaps the perceived detachment of the narration is simply the English manner; it was refreshingly English that the humor was very dry. Being musical, an Anglophile, and lover of richly-drawn characters, I enjoyed "The Choir".
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this. For some reason, I just couldn't relate to most of the characters, or even keep them straight after awhile, they seemed so similar. And I guess I was expecting more of a resolution - okay, I need to manage my expectations better. All in all, I didn't get a real sense of who these people ARE. And that is so much of what I've come to love about Ms. Trollope's writing.
The book was mildly satisfying and I finished it, but wouldn't really recommend it.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
British Cathedral Choir School

A delightful read for anyone who has had the slightest exposure to an English choir school. Enlightening also for its sprinkling of idioms unfamiliar in US English. The struggles and anguish of the characters are universal, though colored by the lenses of their professional passions and their unique culture.
Melanie Vidrine
Barbara Pym Revisited

Many years ago, I discovered Barbara Pym's novels of British life, often centered around the Anglican Church. Joanna Trollope is a more modern author in the same vein. I have read several of her novels, all very enjoyable for an Anglophile like me.
Karen Levi
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed the setting in a choir, in an English cathedral; and the characters; and the sentimental tone.
Sara Eames
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good story - well told.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very reminiscent of Barbara Pym. Which isn't a bad thing.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
A little slow
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Multi-faceted, engaging characters turn a seemingly simple plot line into something far more complex.
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Actually 3.5. I enjoyed this tale of an English cathedral and its choir very much. Every small insular community has its politics and rivalries. Aldchester is a smaller cathedral that has a five-hundred-year history of choral music. The dean of the cathedral and the school headmaster have differing views on what is important to maintain the cathedral as a strong presence in the community. Dean Cavendish is concerned about the cathedral building. As problems are discovered in the fabric that dema ...more
Gurth Bruins
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the last few months I have discovered two contemporary novelists that I had not appreciated before. Both really top class. It's like discovering a gold mine, for these are not one-book writers or writers whose books are all more or less the same. Ken Follett and Joanna Trollope.
Both are very strong in two characteristics that I come to value more with increasing age: maturity and objectivity. We are not presented with goodies and baddies, but shown a just appreciation of the merits of both si
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it
One of my ambitions is to live in a house on the Cathedral Green at Wells in the UK. Given I live in Australia it doesn't seem very likely and I think I'm going to have to be satisfied with visiting occasionally and reading books like " The Choir". I read this many years ago, and I still enjoyed it on this latest read. It's such a cosy book, I almost wish I was a Vicar's wife. Only almost. One of my greatest thrills was attending a choir service at Salisbury Cathedral a couple of years ago, and ...more
Pam Kirst
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it

I do find, though, that I need story. So, in addition to Coming to Our Senses, I am reading a Joanna Trollope novel, The Choir. It’s one of my favorite kinds of relaxing reads—a proper English tale with characters I care about.

This tale takes place in a cathedral town and the central dilemma is whether or not to continue the Cathedral choir. Some plot against; some plot for. The plotters are human and sympathetic even at their Machiavellian worst.

I know which side I’m rooting for.

And it’s intere
Lisa of Hopewell
Aug 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Another excellent slice of life novel from Joanna Trollope. Though not as good as "The Rector's Wife," this book still packs a punch. The politics and money of organized religion, the personalities involved in a both religion and education, combined with the very human fabric of the surrounding society are each brought almost cruelly to life here. From the very grand Dean who has so lost control of his own family that even his wife calls him "Hufffo," to the sensational organist, Leo, whose life ...more
Aug 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was the book that got me started on my Joanna Trollope kick this summer! I just loved this novel! Admittedly, I had seen the BBC TV production of the movie "The Choir" made from this book some years ago, which captured my attention. But I hadn't known the author at that time. Looking for the dvd brought me to an author I am so delighted to be getting to know. The book is a tightly-knit drama that admittedly might only appeal to a) someone English b) someone with familiarity with church choi ...more
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've read this one about three times and always enjoy it, a real roller coaster of class battles, ever so genteelly done. The boy in the choir comes from a middle class background, and his mother is battling with bringing him up on her own more or less with a husband who is more absent than home. But that's not really the story, what is here is the cost of running a choir in a cathedral against the cost of maintaining the cathedral. How do you raise the money to fight damp in the cathedral - is ...more
May 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Either she is brilliant at saying very little or else she has very little to say. I'm prepared to concede I may have missed something but this was a long struggle to find anything of interest or anything to believe. My old junior school teacher always encouraged us to take something away from every book. All I can take away from this is a strong desire not to have to read another Joanna Trollope.

Or. If you read in order to fill the time between birth and death then this may be for you.

Or. I woul
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
I had no idea what this book would be like when i started it, and i have to admit the more I got into it, the more I really enjoyed it. The author does a nice job of bringing her characters to life - there were quite a few characters to keep track of, but somehow she managed to weave them all in, and give just enough information that you felt you understood each character without making this a 1000 page novel. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but after about the 4th or 5th chapter I oft ...more
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
A friend recommended Trollope's novels to me, and I happened to have this one on hand. I enjoyed the details of how an English cathedral works, and once the plot got going, it did carry me away. The palette of characters was also interesting, and I enjoyed the humor. However, the plot took way to long to get any momentum and the constant shifts in point of view in the first third or so of the book, where it wasn't at all clear where the dramatic tension would come from, were annoying. Once the p ...more
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Joanna Trollope Potter Curteis (aka Caroline Harvey)

Joanna Trollope was born on 9 December 1943 in her grandfather's rectory in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Rosemary Hodson and Arthur George Cecil Trollope. She is the eldest of three siblings. She is a fifth-generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and is a cousin of the writer and broadcaster James Trol
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