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4.2 out of 5 stars98
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 27 June 2011
Really enjoyed reading this novel, it captures the past beautifully and tells a story I genuinely didn't know. The research slips seamlessly into the story, and you forget that the author must have done a heck of a lot to get the setting right. But she manages to do just that, and small details of everyday life back in 1940 make this a must for anyone who loves reading about the past. But the main characters are women who could easily be in a modern day novel, all rewriting rules and actually living life on their terms. The story is sometimes triumphant and sometimes heartbreaking, while also containing the elements of romance and action that will appeal to both women and men. The flight set pieces are thrilling, and the sense of danger is always present. Above all, the sense of real people striving to live in a very difficult time comes through. Their heroism and sacrifice is something we can all aspire too. Extremely accomplished debut, and I look forward to the author's next work.
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on 6 April 2012
I found this a bit of a book of two halves. It started in an interesting way but part way through it became more of a conventional love story. Lots of research went into this novel and it does honour the women and men of the ATA. I liked the unusual voice of a "ghost" character in the early chapters. The book might have been more interesting if this theme had continued throughout. For me, most of the characters did not behave in a believable way and were there just to serve the plot. When challenged about their flying ability or the honour of their ladies, men tend to say through clenched teeth "Why, you...." before landing a punch. For people engaged in war work demanding great personal discipline, this did not ring true to me. Rationing is mentioned here and there but no one seems at all affected by it; cakes appear, private swimming pools are kept heated at all times, drink flows. One of the less pleasant characters makes a fuss about a restaurant bill but meals were restricted to five shillings in the war so this did not ring true either. I found it quite irritating and the ending was rushed and melodramatic.
Ultimately, this is a wet weekend/beach read love story and if you like slightly improbable romances with a nod at authentic period background you will like this book. If you want to find out more about the ATA Girls, read Debs at War by Anne de Courcy or Spreading my Wings by Diana Barnato Walker.
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on 12 April 2011
A stunning book of love loss and romance etc, but really just an incredible true story that I cant believe I knew nothing about before reading this! Based on the ATA girls of World War II, incredible women who flew everything from Bomber planes and Spitfires from factories to airbases as part of the war effort. The girls in the book, Evie the fabulous one, Stella the concerned mother with a great tragic back story and my favourite, young Megan the welsh farmers daughter, come together to fly for the ATA and have to live together in a tiny cottage. They all come from all over, with interesting reasons for flying that make it something you can really imagine, like Evie who's desperate for adventure and Stella who just wants to escape and build up her confidence. This book captures an incredible time and place so well, whilst still being a really nice easy read about characters you can get to grips with. There are scenes of action that highlight the incredibly dangerous job they did (they weren't allowed to fly with weaponry or navigation!) and then wonderful humour and exciting romance and friendships. It gave me everything a good book should.

I'm partly writing this review on behalf of my Grandma, who loved this book as much as I did. I think that shows the true broad appeal of this book, my Grandma loved the setting whereas I felt really touched that girls like me in their early twenties were so brave and strong to fly these great planes in dangerous conditions.

Thrilling, heart warming and fascinating true stuff - a great gift for a female relative.
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on 9 July 2011
Historical novel following the experiences of three women pilots who join the ATA ferrying planes between bases. I was shocked to learn that the planes carried no radio or weapons, making them sitting targets for enemy planes. A good story with some romance and adventure thrown in. The way that the story ends makes me wonder if a sequel is planned. An enjoyable read. The only thing that I found difficult to accept was the descriptions of steak and kidney pie, or beouf bourguignon that the characters were able to tuck into. I didn't think that people could eat such tasty food with food rationing in place. I still look forward to reading some more from this author.
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on 15 May 2011
The Beauty Chorus is a work of fiction which is based on fact. It sings the unsung praise of the ATA girls, a group of women who during World War Two came from across the world and offered their services for the war effort. They came from all strata of the society from debutante to village girl. The Beauty Chorus looks at the life of three such women, Evie, a debutante used to diamonds and furs, Stella, a young mother and Megan, unworldly and eager to learn.

Their normal lives flow almost light-heartedly against the dark background of war as the girls ferry planes all over the country without a thought for their own safety, putting their lives on the line each time they flew. It shows the quiet courage of the ATA girls who, on one hand, were professionals in charge of valuable airplanes and on the other, young women who tried to have a semblance of life in their off-duty periods.

Kate Lord Brown portrays the girls with sensitivity and warmth. It is a book that one should read to understand the shaping of these untried girls into skilled pilots and to delight in the details of their everyday life. A great read of romance and friendship.
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on 25 April 2011
'The Beauty Chorus' is a wonderful story of love and adventure. Brown writes with concise, elegant prose and her characters are believable and give the reader someone to root for. Brown's research is impeccable and the novel transported me back to World War II and gave me an insight into the real spitfire women. The plot is fast-paced and exciting, involving the reader completely in the lives of the women and their men.

I look forward to reading the next novel with great enthusiasm.
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on 25 February 2014
I'm not a fan of historical novels, but this story about the women who delivered 'planes around the country to keep the war in the air going, is fascinating. It gives a picture of life on the airfields and the courage and dedication displayed, not just by the spitfire pilots, but also by the women who made up 'the Beauty Chorus'. The author states that some of the characters were real. I assume she means women such as Amy Johnson. The story follows the lives of three of the women, from different walks of life, who took on this very dangerous job, which I knew little about before reading the book. Maybe I've missed something, but surely these women have been overlooked.
Thoroughly recommended and I hope it will be turned into a film/television series.
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on 1 March 2016
As much as I've enjoyed Kate Lords Brown's other books, this one was difficult to get to grips with. The premise of the story is fascinating, women flying planes around airfields during WW2, delivering aircraft etc., and the beginning with Amy Johnson's crash was excellent. However the story soon lost momentum, as the author began telling the stories of three young women who join the ATA, and towards the end it became quite muddled. I would have liked the 'ghost' element to continue, and for one of the characters not to have got away with murder. These women were amazing, flying spitfires, bombers etc., they made an amazing contribution to the war effort, and their stories should have made a better book than this.
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on 4 March 2012
After reading the glowing reviews of this book I was really looking forward to it. After all it's a fascinating subject. The author clearly feels passionately about the issues, and has researched well, but I couldn't get passed what I felt were serious literary flaws.

There's huge amounts of back story wedged in to dialogue, which makes it feel clunky and unnatural. Much of it ddn't seem to fit with the era either. Phrases like "call me" I can't imagine we're used during the war, and the term "teenager" certainly didn't exist until the 50s.

I also couldn't get my head around Evie, who spends so much time boasting that she was 'born to fly' yet has not done much to prove that to us. What was exactly so special about her flying? I ended up rooting with the wicked stepmother (itself a cliche) finding Evie a bit of a brat.

I also found it pretty improbable that three girls n the 1940s, from such different backgrounds, wouldn't have experienced some kind of class tension between them. It would have made it a bit more interesting if they had maybe. Their instant friendship seemed to lack substance as they had little in common except that they liked to fly.

It's not like me to give up on a book, but as this story galloped to a rather predictable conclusion I felt I couodn't go on. Maybe if you're looking for an easy beach side read this could be fun, but it does't really work as a gritty historical drama.
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on 15 May 2011
Despite other glowing reviews for this book I wasn't impressed by it. I felt there were a number of inconsistencies and that it wasn't really evocative of the period. It was almost as if the authoress was trying to create an adventure story with stereotyped characters and a less than satisfactory conclusion.
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