Book Club Guide


1) Which main character did you relate to most, and why – Evie, Stella or Megan?

2) What do you think motivates the main characters?

3) How do the minor characters add to the book? What role do they play?

4) Can you relate to the characters’ predicaments? Do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?

5) How do characters change and grow through the story?

6) Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?

7) Did the plot pull you in, or did you find the story took a while to get into? Why do you think this is?

8) Who is involved in the story’s central conflict and what is at stake for them?

9) Did any parts of the book make you feel uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this give you a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?

10) Where is the story set? Does the setting provide any challenges for the characters?

11) Is the setting like a character? Does it come alive for you?

12) Did you feel as if you experienced the time and place in which ‘The Beauty Chorus’ was set?

13) From what point of view is the story told? How does that affect the way readers view the story?

14) Is there a part of the book that stood out as particularly memorable for you? Why might that be?

15) Does the book focus on one major issue or theme? What do you think the book is about?

16) Is the story built around social issues? If so, what are they? (eg, working conditions, differences in working class and upper class, gender)

17) Did you know about these women pilots before reading ‘The Beauty Chorus’? Why do you think their contribution to WW2 has been overlooked?

18) Are there symbols in the book? What do you think those symbols represent?

19) Do the symbols help to develop the plot, or help to define characters?

20) What is the book's climax? What changes for the characters after that scene takes place?

21) Was the ending satisfying or disappointing? Why?

22) Did the title give you an idea of what the book was about?

23) Did you enjoy the book? Why? Why not?

24) How did ‘The Beauty Chorus’ compare to books in the same genre?

25) What passage from the book stood out to you?

26) Did you learn something you didn’t know before?

27) Do you feel as if your views on a subject have changed by reading this text?

28) Name your favourite thing overall about the book. Your least favourite?

29) What do you think the author is trying to get readers to think about by the end of ‘The Beauty Chorus’?

30) Can you imagine the story continuing – what do you think would happen next to the characters?


E C Cheesman


Diana Barnato Walker


Giles Whittell

For more information about ‘The Beauty Chorus’, links to online content about the ATA and videos visit:

How did you become interested in the ATA ‘Spitfire Girls’?

I read a tiny obituary in a flying magazine, (I’m married to a pilot). My first thought was ‘wow, I didn’t know women flew fighter planes during the war’. We have Lancaster pilots in the family, and yet I’d never heard about these incredible women. Months of research stemmed from that article.

Do you think Evie, Stella and Megan are typical of the ATA girls?

I hope so – I read as many first-hand accounts and memoirs as possible. Evie is very much one of the ‘beauty chorus’, the rich debutantes whose pre-war life revolved around flying clubs and parties. Stella was inspired by the women who travelled to Britain from the Colonies to ‘do their bit’ and have the chance to fly. Megan reflects how young some of these girls were, and perhaps those who came from less glittering backgrounds, who had their pilot’s licence for one reason or another. What united all these ‘types’ of women was their gung-ho attitude, their bravery, and their modesty. When you hear the veterans talk now, it’s still apparent they felt they were just doing their job.

How have the ‘real’ ATA girls reacted to the novel?

I was lucky enough to work closely with the ATA archive in Maidenhead ( for details about visiting). Through them I was able to read the wartime diaries and papers of ATA pilots, and work with the veterans. The response has been good – though apparently one of the ‘girls’ (now in her 80s), said something along the lines of ‘nonsense, we didn’t cry’. They were – as Diana Barnato Walker said – tough babies, doing dangerous, skilled work side by side with the male pilots in extraordinary times. Stiff upper lip doesn’t even begin to describe how they just got on with it. I think though, with historical fiction as opposed to non-fiction, you do need to see ‘inside’ the characters, and see the emotions people were buttoning down. The parts about women weeping in dark cinemas, for example, are entirely true.

Why does your work blend fact and fiction?

I’m interested in forgotten histories, and fascinated by people like Amy Johnson, and Pauline Gower whose true stories are so remarkable. I think even ‘straight’ history is interpretation and a partial view – there are always gaps in accounts, unnamed people in photographs. This is where I fit my fictional characters in. I think it’s an interesting way to breathe life into the past, and working with a fictional framework allows you to create characters that give you an emotional hook into real events.