P.S. If you’ve already read the book, feel free to add any other discussion questions of your own in the comments!
Have you ever had to compete against a close friend for something you really wanted? If so, what was it, and were you able to support one another, or did it cause a rift? If not, how do you think you would react if put in that situation?
1. Orleans is an opulent, frothy place with a dark underbelly, like cotton candy with a rotten center. What did you think of Clayton’s world building? Did it feel unique compared to other fantasy YA worlds? Would you ever want to visit Orleans or would you prefer to stay far, far away?
2. Orleans was full of imaginative touches like post balloons, teacup animals, and teahouses. Did you have a favorite detail, something you wish you could experience IRL?
3. The Belles control beauty, the most powerful and coveted resource in Orleans, but they have little control over their own lives. How does this translate to real life and the way women and girls are treated in a patriarchal society? Did Orleans’ obsession with beauty ever remind you of our world?
4. In an interview, Clayton has been quoted saying, “I am endlessly fascinated with ambitious women that are willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. Ambition feeds my soul and makes me excited about getting up each day, but I am acutely aware of the dark side of ambition.” The women in The Belles are always working their way to the top, even sometimes at the expense of others. What did you think of the way Clayton portrayed ambitious women in this story, especially her heroine Camellia?
5. What did you think of Sophia as a villain?
6. Camellia is charmed by Auguste, but his potential betrothal to Sophia could make things very messy and dangerous for her. Meanwhile, her new bodyguard Remy seems to be the only person she can trust. What did you think of the love story in The Belles? Were you curious about the direction it seemed to take? Did it heighten the stakes for you?
7. The Belles ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and it’s the first book in a series. Will you read the sequel? What do you hope happens?