Jennifer Ryan's new novel is The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.
From the author's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You write that some of the inspiration for the book came from your grandmother's stories about World War II. How much was drawn from her experiences and how much from your own imagination?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I like to think of historical fiction as the coming together of all the different threads of experience, from the tales told by my grandmother to the hundreds of books I read about the Second World War, all condensed into a general understanding in my mind in which I could let my imagination run free.
Some of the plot lines in the novel came directly from my grandmother, such as the choir and the parties, and others came from some of the old ladies I interviewed, such as the Women's Voluntary Service, the baby swap, and how everyone kept morale up with jokes and singing.
The memoirs and journals provided a lot of the atmosphere, of how it would have been like to live in a war situation, as well as the consensus about the status of women, sexuality, the upper classes, and homosexuality.
When I began to create Chilbury, I wanted to write a story that...[read on]