Book review: All Together Now by Gill Hornby

13 Jun

all together nowThe Bridgeford Community Choir is in crisis. Numbers are down. The choir leader is in hospital. The tea urn is behaving in an ominous fashion. Something must be done.

New joiners Tracey Leckford and Bennett Parker might just be able to save the day. But Tracey is hiding a huge secret about her past. And Bennett – while equipped with a beautiful singing voice – is entirely baffled by the world and everything in it. Can they really fit in with dependable old regulars like Annie?

As the choir suffers through fights, feuds and the perils of the school fair, it becomes clear that their struggles are not just about music, but the future of their community. In order to save their singing group and their town, the Bridgeford Singers will have to find a way to work together – in harmony.

I’d heard many good things about Gill Hornby’s debut, The Hive, so when I was given the chance to review her new novel, All Together Now - I jumped at it! Despite not being able to sing a note myself, I have a bit of a thing for choirs and I’m a big fan of Glee, the Pitch Perfect films and of course The Choir, so this story about a little community choir seemed like a perfect read for me and I’m very pleased to say it was.

Gill Hornby has created a truly varied (and often quite anti-community) cast of characters and during the course of All Together Now not only takes them on their individual journeys but develops them as a coherent group and into a true community to the point where I was cheering them on from my reading spot!

I was surprised to find that despite first impressions I loved so many of the characters in this book. New recruits to the choir, Tracey and Bennett have two of the main story lines and couldn’t be more different; single Mum Tracey is very much in ‘solo’ mode and is (fairly) happy with her life bringing up her only son Billy. Tracey is trying so hard to be self sufficient and a ‘cool’ mum that she’s lost all perspective and Bennett who has recently lost his job and separated from his wife (at her instigation) feels like he has been cast adrift into a world that he just doesn’t understand. Together with teenage Jazzy who is waiting for her big break and community stalwart Annie they each have something to bring to the choir but the big question is, can anyone get beyond first impressions and bring the group together?

Hornby’s writing is clever and funny – her depictions of small town life are spot on and I found myself chuckling out loud quite a bit through the book, especially at Annie and Sue whose ‘menopause corner’ conversations are just brilliant. Poignant and reflective moments balance the humour well and I found All Together Now a very enjoyable read.

My son recently joined a local choir and Gill Hornby really does capture the magic of a group of voices singing together and how infectious that can be. With drama, secrets, love and great music, All Together Now is a hopeful and uplifting read. I’ve already ordered a copy of Gill’s previous novel, The Hive and I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next book.

4/5

All Together Now is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Abacus.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

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