Author(s): Helen Humphreys
Shot down on his first RAF mission, James Hunter spends his war in a German prison camp. The other captive soldiers busy themselves planning their escapes, but James dedicates himself to a detailed study of the redstarts nesting just beyond the camp boundaries - a project that gives him something to live for and earns him an unusual ally in the Kommandant in charge of the camp. Rose, James's young wife, is spending her war in a cottage on the lip of Ashdown Forest in Sussex, with her dog Harris for company. She'd hardly known James before he went away and can barely engage with his letters, which talk of nothing but birds. Now she has fallen in love with someone else - Toby, a young pilot home on sick leave. They meet secretly at night. Then James's brusque sister Enid is bombed out of her flat in London and comes to live in Rose's tiny cottage. Little more than strangers, both women are guarded, and Rose tries to conceal her affair from Enid. But later both look back on this strange interlude as one of their happiest.
Beautifully written and full of moments of hope, The Evening Chorus is a stirring story about love and the natural world, set against the backdrop of the Second World War.
A story of four lives torn apart by war, falling in and out of love, and the unlikely moments that come to define a life - now available in paperback
Shortlisted for Governor General's Literary Award: Fiction Category 2015.
A poised, lyrical novel about the griefs of war, written with poetic intensity of observation -- Helen Dunmore Poignantly explores the sorrows of war and consolations of nature ... A story of heartbreak and hope, it unfolds against a mesmerizingly described natural world. Mail on Sunday The Evening Chorus serenades people brutally marked by war yet enduring to live the tiny pleasures of another day. With her trademark prose Humphreys convinces us of the birdlike strength of the powerless. -- Emma Donoghue In The Evening Chorus the interventions of war, and the resulting human tragedies, play out against a natural world at once remote, alien and ultimately redemptive. The novel has a crystalline quality about it - it's clear and complex and self-contained. It sparkles. -- Jo Baker, author of Longbourn If there's a writer of English prose with a more profound connection to the natural world and to the subtleties of human love and sorrow than Helen Humphreys, I don't know who it is. The Evening Chorus is rich with her particular gift for symphonic cadences and beautiful imagery that moves a story forward with the momentum of a big train gathering speed. This riveting novel is a song. Listen. -- Richard Bausch, author of The Last Good Time, the forthcoming Before, During, After and others Humphreys has a gift for complex characterization, which she renders in a few terse strokes. The Boston Globe Humphreys has an impeccable command of imagery, and her prose finds strength in its subtlety. Publishers Weekly A heartbreaking yet redemptive story about loss and survival surrounding a British prisoner of war during World War II and the wife he barely got to know before his capture ... Humphreys deserves more recognition for the emotional intensity and evocative lyricism of her seemingly straightforward prose and for her ability to quietly squirrel her way into the reader's heart. Kirkus A lyrical narrative about loss, love and the natural world. -- Matilda Bathurst Country Life A lyrical novel about war and the natural world and their effects on human beings. Beautifully written, the story it tells about the secrets within relationships, some expected, others surprising, makes this novel a quiet pleasure. Diva Humphreys has spun an atmospheric yarn, and her descriptions of flora and fauna always engage. -- Stephanie Cross Daily Mail An uplifting novel that explores the fragility of wartime lives and the awe-inspiring strength of survivors. -- Helena Gumley-Mason The Lady
Helen Humphreys is a Canadian novelist and poet. She was born in London, England, and now lives in Kingston, Ontario. Her first novel, Leaving Earth, was a New York Times Notable Book in 1998 and won the City of Toronto Book Award. She is also the author of The Reinvention of Love and True Story: On the Life and Death of My Brother, both published by Serpent's Tail.