Carry On Singing

Quarantine Choir

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
128 Pages
Reviewed on 04/13/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Hayley Haun for Readers' Favorite

Rosie Wilkins has a bit of a tiff with her husband Sal. When he claims her to be boring and no longer fun and adventurous, Rosie takes the words hard. She decides to travel solo to Pont de Sor, Portugal. In the sunny country, she can write, sing in a choir and maybe live on the wild side for a few weeks. It is time to show Sal that he is utterly wrong. However, during her supposedly short stay, Covid steamrolls through. Rosie is forced to stay in Portugal. Her desire to go home is strong, but things at home are rocky and not just because of the pandemic. Rosie begins to realize her marriage is far from perfect, and her hopes to show Sal he is wrong fall apart. Rosie must overcome both the emotional wreckage of her marriage and the illness spreading like wildfire. Despite all of this, friends, inspiration, and self-love are found in the unlikeliest situations.

Carry on Singing by Julie Hodgson belts out a serenade of humor and vulnerability. Short and sweet, yet relatable to our lives today, Carry on Singing hits home for everyone throughout the world. No matter who they are, people felt and still do feel the repercussions when Covid took over. Hodgson reflects on the effects of the virus through characters with different backgrounds and personalities. Covid is the external conflict making or breaking these characters. The growth and character arcs are enjoyable because there is a clear transformation within the storyline. Carry on Singing reveals there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

These have been difficult times for everyone, but imagine being in a foreign country when the lockdowns began and unable to return home. This is what happened to Scottish writer, Rosie. She went to Portugal, as she often does, only this time to get away from her husband after a confrontation. Then the pandemic hits, the world is locked down and she can’t return to Scotland. At least she has a place to stay, even though it’s an apartment next door to the world’s worst neighbor. And, she has a passion for music that draws her to a ladies' choir which, during the lockdown, meets online. After months of singing together online, they are allowed a rather small audience to hear them perform and she’s up for a solo. Rosie’s nervous, but she thinks she has the nerves under control. That is, until the moment her husband suddenly appears, making a rather clumsy, loud entrance that shatters her nerves. Is there more? Another romance perhaps? What is Rosie to do? Go home to Scotland? Go home to her husband? Or just carry on singing?

Julie Hodgson’s novel, Carry On Singing, is certainly very timely. Taking a current situation as the backdrop to this drama, she weaves in the healing power of music and the camaraderie it instills between people who may otherwise never have met. The plot evolves through the pandemic lockdown, introducing multiple friendships and interesting characters along the way. There is a lot of drama and even romance as someone seeks to attract Rosie’s attention. The climax is the sudden appearance of Rosie’s husband, Sal, just as she’s about to start her solo. But music, the driving force of life, pulls her through, nerves and all. The new friends, the new relationships, and the isolation that dissolves as the music binds helps the plot live up to its title as everyone carries on singing. A story about love, music and living in forced isolation. Beautifully told.

Astrid Iustulin

No woman likes to be told that she is boring, and Rosie Wilkins, a Scottish writer and the protagonist of Julie Hodgson's Carry On Singing, is no exception. Rosie heard those words from her husband after several years of marriage, a marriage that she considered happy. After that discovery, Rosie left home, joined a choir, made new friends, and tried to change to get her husband back. When the Coronavirus outbreak forces her to lock herself in her house, Rosie will have to learn to adapt to her new life and try to find a way out of her situation.

Carry On Singing is a delightful novel I read with pleasure. Julie Hodgson is an excellent writer. With her honest and conversational tone, she makes the characters agreeable and their thoughts immediately clear. You cannot but have fun with Rosie and her friends. You feel like you are part of their group, as if you really know all these nice modern women. A pleasant surprise to me is that Carry On Singing refers to a recent event (the Coronavirus outbreak) we all know. Rosie experiences the same limitations that have been imposed on each of us, and that not only makes her a little more realistic, but it makes me sympathize with her. I believe this choice of setting is a strong point of Carry On Singing. Overall, this novel tells a story that is contemporary from all points of view. I recommend it to readers who are looking for an enjoyable read.