Wednesday 23 August 2017

Fiction: All Together Now by Gill Hornby

Little Brown, €10.50

All Together Now by Gill Hornby Little
All Together Now by Gill Hornby Little

Margaret Carragher

Following her 2013  debut The Hive which hilariously parodied a group of competitive yummy mummies, Gill Hornby (pictured below) is back on form with this delightfully observed tale of a small community choir — and the bigger picture surrounding it. 

Like its town, Bridgeford choir is in trouble: its leader is ill, its numbers depleted and its members bored and despondent.

With the  coveted county championships looming, what Bridgeford community choir needs is new talent — but where to find                                                                       it?

Enter self-appointed community activist  Annie Millar whose ad hoc recruitment campaign yields the posh, socially inept Bennett St John Parker; Tracey Leckford, a chippy single parent with  a secret past; Jazzy, a teenage waitress with family issues and X Factor ambitions; potential juvenile delinquents Curly and Squat; and a gang of surly, disaffected youths plucked by Annie from their hangout at the town’s war memorial and judiciously sprinkled among the choir’s basses, baritones and tenors.

That such a motley crew might find common ground much less forge lasting friendships would be unlikely were it not for the  transformative force of the music they make so well together; a force for good that grows and spreads like honey throughout the                         community.

The theme here may be universal but it’s all in the telling; and Hornby,  who hails from writerly stock - her brother Nick and Robert Harris are both best-selling authors - tells it very well indeed in this sweet, uplifting and wonderfully witty tale.

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