Bestie Book Club
Chloe's Book Club's March pick is the second The Belles book, The Everlasting Rose
Welcome back to Chloe’s Book Club — a community for book lovers from Chloe Lukasiak and Girls’ Life magazine.
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Here's a quick list of everything you'll find inside this post (and beyond). Just remember, *major spoilers* are ahead (so look for the spoiler ratings before you read!).
The matriarchal March edition of Chloe’s Book Club stars The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton, a book about the power of women—both good and evil—and the dark side of beauty. To get 15% off your copy, head over to Barnes & Noble and use the code chloereads at checkout (offer available through March 31, 2019). Or, if you're shopping in store, CLICK HERE to snag a coupon. Pssst: Be sure to share the discount with all the friends in your book club!
Ready to get started? Read on...
Spoiler level: Moderate
Who knew that a world filled with beauty could be so ugly?
Camellia Beaureguard, that’s who—and she’s more than ready to tackle the ugly in Orléans head-on. The former favorite Belle from The Belles faces a once-gorgeous but now grotesque society that’s obsessed with glamour in the author’s newest novel, The Everlasting Rose.
ICYMI, in The Belles, a #1 New York Times bestseller from Dhonielle Clayton, Camille is an innocent young woman with special abilities thanks to her arcana (aka special proteins in her blood). This is what makes her a Belle, and thus sets her apart from ordinary Orléans citizens. Each year, one Belle is selected as the “favorite,” an esteemed honor that allows her to work for the royal family and ensure that they always look beautiful. It’s their arcana that allows them to alter anyone’s appearance. Belles can make changes, both cinchy and complex, from eye color and hair color to waist size and height.
Once inside the palace, Camille discovers that Princess Sophia is slowly poisoning her sister, Princess Charlotte, to ensure that she will be the one to ascend the throne once their mother, the queen, is dead. Soon enough, Camille realizes that the palace isn’t the sparkling place she imagined—so she bolts.
In The Everlasting Rose, the second book in this series, Princess Charlotte and the Queen are gone. Next in line for the throne, Sophia is drunk on power, beauty-obsessed and out for blood—literally. Even without a crown on her head, Sophia has already started her rule by capturing and locking up Camille’s fellow Belles so she can use their blood to breed more of them.
Despite the fact that Sophia’s imperial forces are looking for Camille after she escaped her royal grip, the former favorite refuses to sit idly by while her people are treated as objects. When Camille discovers that Princess Charlotte is still alive, she and her Belle sister Edel hatch a plan to find the princess, rescue her and heal her—all before Sophia becomes queen.
It’s then that the pair encounter The Iron Ladies, a (literally) underground group that refuses all beauty treatments and shares Camille and Edel’s anti-Sophia mentality. Armed with allies, Camille and Edel put their plan into motion—only to realize they might be in over their heads.
What they don’t account for? Getting captured, endangering their loved ones, encountering boyfriends new and old...and the horror that happens when they finally come face-to-face with Sophia herself.
Spoiler level: Low
Okay, guys...wow. My mind has been buzzing about The Everlasting Rose (and The Belles!) since I finished them. Here's what I've pretty much decided after reading them: It's not easy being a woman in today's society. And by that I mean Orléans *and* our actual modern day society.
Here's why: Society impresses upon people—especially women—that if you don't look a certain way, you're just not good enough. You're not beautiful. You're not worthy. You're not this and you're not that. I loved how Dhonielle Clayton explored that in the novel. For me, what I find especially difficult is dealing with impractical societal expectations while working in the entertainment industry.
People have known who I am and what I look like since I was a kid. I basically went through puberty on television, which was embarrassing and awkward and everything in between.
I'm much curvier now than I was back then, of course, and my relationship with my body is much different now, too. Here's the awful truth: I don't love my body all of the time. I have trouble with my thighs and my stomach, which seems silly even as I write that out.
Those feelings are usually amplified when I go into fittings. I'll work with a stylist who pulls clothes for me to wear at events like award shows and fashion week. But sometimes during those fittings, some articles of clothing just don't fit me. Right away, I feel embarrassed and self-conscious. I start to harp on the things that I already dislike about my appearance. One voice inside of me won’t shut up about how inadequate I am based on society's standards. But at the same time, another, slightly quieter voice is like "This is your body—why do you feel embarrassed?!"
Each and every time that or a similar situation occurs, I try to listen to that quiet voice and remind myself that this is my body, and it's something I need to love and be proud of because it's the only one I'll get.
I can’t imagine living in Orléans, with opportunities to alter my appearance at every turn. Sure, there are ways we can do that today, but that's not something I've ever been interested in. I’ll take chowing down on a chocolatey brownie (I really can’t overstate how much I love desserts 😅) and then hitting the gym for a sweat sesh over a session with a Belle to be altered by their arcana.
Another thing that I think will help me—and anyone else struggling with loving their body—is setting my own expectations and ideas of what I should look like, rather than following the ones that society has set for me.
I have no doubt that the day I’m able to say "I love my thighs” will be a v. happy one.
Spoiler level: Moderate
Time to press play! In our March playlist, we're obsessing over these three tracks inspired by The Everlasting Rose. From Beyoncé to Anne Marie to Lady Gaga, read on for the most Orléans tunes ever. Then, keep listening for more body-positive and inner-beauty tracks by amazing female artists—ones that The Iron Ladies would rock out to, no doubt.
1. "Pretty Hurts" by Beyoncé
Few lyrics sum up The Everlasting Rose better than this Beyoncé lyric: "Perfection is a disease of a nation." The obsession with beauty that fuels Orléans is no-doubt a societal issue, and Bey puts it perfectly in this song.
2. "Perfect To Me" by Anne Marie
Here's something we all need to hear every single day: "I'm OK with not being perfect, because that's perfect to me." Anne Marie's lyric is the perfect thing to write on your mirror, doodle on your notebook or just simply commit to memory. There's power in accepting your flaws. It's no simple feat, of course. But once you do? No feeling beats it. Also like, yeah, sometimes we all just want to stuff our faces with leftover mac and cheese, you know?
3. "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga
Obvi we've been obsessing over Lagy Gaga's "Shallow" for, like, ever now. But this classic Gaga anthem from the archives is impossible to ignore. "Rejoice and love yourself today, 'cause baby you were born this way." Just think about how much happier every single person in Orléans would be if instead of committing themselves to every beauty trend that hits the streets, they just decided to love the skin that they're in. Pretty powerful, no?
Spoiler level: Moderate
1. Throughout the novel, it’s mentioned that Sophia always requires the latest and greatest beauty treatments, and that she will not allow any person under her rule to be more beautiful than she is. Throughout Orléans, citizens are also always attempting to outdo each other with their appearances. What do you think is the downside of this obsession with external beauty? Do you feel that this preoccupation is prevalent in our society in any way today? Explain.
2. On page 146, the Fashion Minister explains to Edel that simply because two people don’t share the same beliefs, that doesn't mean they can’t support one other. He's referring to The Iron Ladies' support of Camille and Edel despite the fact that they do not share the same beauty philosophies. Edel does not want their support. Do you feel that it's possible to align yourself with (or be friends with) someone if you hold different beliefs? Explain.
3. On page 200, Camille and Edel decide to team up with Lady Arane and The Iron Ladies so that they can rescue Princess Charlotte and find the rest of their Belle sisters. They're more powerful together than they are apart. If you were to round up your own group of girls to, say, overthrow a tyrannical ruler, who would you choose for your crew? Why?
4. In the beginning of the novel, Camille finds herself attracted to Remy, a guard who is traveling with her, Edel and Amber. On page 229, Camille encounters Auguste, her former love and Sophia’s fiancé, for the first time since she escaped the palace. All of her feelings come rushing back, of course. Have you ever held strong romantic feelings for two people at the same time? What did you do? What did it teach you about relationships?
5. Overall, this is a book about powerful women. Camille uses her power (from her arcana, from her highly visible position as the former favorite and from her pure heart) to help save her fellow Belles. Meanwhile, Sophia uses her power as soon-to-be ruler to ensure that her people fear her. Who in your life do you consider to be a powerful woman? Are there any modern-day female public figures (politicians, celebrities, etc.) who you feel are powerful? What about them makes them so?
Three book-loving babes will win supremely chic The Everlasting Rose-inspired prizes: a $75 gift card to The Bouqs Co.—which specializes in gorgeous, cut-to-order flowers—and a gift card from Barnes & Noble. What could be better than a bouquet of blooms *and* a bouquet of books? Nothing, ofc.
Ready to enter—and, fingers crossed, win? Click HERE to enter.
So you've read the book and you're ready to talk all things The Everlasting Rose? Wondering *exactly* how Chloe’s Book Club works and what it means to be a member? There are so many ways you can get involved—whether it’s solo, on social media or with your whole squad. Here's a quick list…
+ SOLO. Take your personal reading game to the next level by using Chloe's discussion questions as a guide for your own journaling and personal reflection. If you love to read, it could be fun to start a special book diary where you keep track of all your favorite novels—and the personal musings they inspired.
+ ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Share your thoughts on The Everlasting Rose using the hashtag #chloesbookclub and on Twitter and Instagram. (Just remember: You have to have a public account for us to be able to see and respond to your posts!)
+ WITH YOUR SQUAD. Host an IRL book club party, of course! Check out the playlist for music ideas and Chloe's discussion questions for convo starters — then be sure to tag us in your snaps so we can share them.