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Book Club Questions for Diva by Daisy Goodwin

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diva book club questions

Book club questions for Diva by Daisy Goodwin explore the themes of love, fame, resilience, and self-discovery, especially in the aftermath of betrayal.

This is a captivating story which moves pretty quickly. Self-discovery is a key theme in this novel, with conversations centering on Maria’s journey to find her true voice and identity in the face of betrayal.

Maria’s biggest challenge was her own voice. She knew she couldn’t sing the way she used to for much longer, and this worried her a lot. Daisy Goodwin did a great job showing Maria’s feelings about her voice and her fears of losing Onassis. The writing was good, and the way the story shifted between different years was well done.

Let me know your thoughts about the novel! Feel free to comment below.

Diva by Daisy Goodwin

In this blog post you will find the discussion questions for Diva by Daisy Goodwin.

Book club discussions may also explore the complexities of love as seen through Maria Callas’s romantic entanglements, particularly her relationship with Aristotle Onassis and the heartbreak that follows. Likewise, historical elements, such as the Nazi-occupied Greece backdrop, provide a context for discussions on the impact of external forces on individual journeys.

Have a wonderful book club discussion! ✨

About the Author | Book Club Questions

Additional Recommendations

About the Story

Diva follows the story of Maria Callas, the renowned opera singer known as la divina. Set against the glamorous backdrop of the competitive opera world, Maria rises to fame with her glorious voice and dramatic flair. However, her journey is marked by hardships, having been raised in Nazi-occupied Greece by a mother who exploited her golden voice.

The narrative takes a dramatic turn when Maria meets Aristotle Onassis, a fabulously rich Greek shipping magnate. For the first time, she believes she has found someone who sees the woman beyond the legendary soprano. The two embark on a whirlwind romance, filled with luxury, jewels, and encounters with international celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The story takes a heartbreaking twist when Onassis announces his marriage to former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, leaving Maria to pick up the pieces. In the face of this heartbreak, Maria discovers her true voice and triumphs over adversity. Through this novel, Daisy Goodwin vividly brings to life the extraordinary talent, relentless drive, and natural chic that made Maria Callas a legend, revealing the resilience that allowed her to find triumph even in the face of loss.

About the Author

Daisy Goodwin is a popular writer and television producer, currently based in London.


Her academic journey took her to Cambridge University, where she pursued a degree in history before furthering her education at Columbia Film School as a Harkness Fellow. Daisy’s career kicked off at the BBC, where she spent a decade creating arts documentaries, followed by a transition to the independent sector. Notable among her accomplishments is the creation of enduring programs like Grand Designs, which has maintained its popularity on Channel 4 for an impressive 18 years.

In 2005, Daisy founded Silver River Productions, a venture that she later sold to Sony in 2012. Alongside her successful television career, she has authored a memoir, Silver River, and two bestselling novels—My Last Duchess (UK)/The American Heiress (US) and The Fortune Hunter. Transitioning to full-time writing in 2014, Daisy embarked on her first screenplay, Victoria, an 8-part series exploring the early life of Queen Victoria for ITV and WGBH Masterpiece Theatre, currently in its second season.

Book Club Questions for Diva

Disclaimer: the following discussion questions contain spoilers, so proceed with caution if you haven’t finished the book yet.

  1. The novel portrays Maria Callas as a complex character, torn between her extraordinary talent and the challenges she faced. How did the author’s portrayal of Maria’s early life and career shape your understanding of her character?
  2. Love, fame, and resilience are central themes in “Diva.” Discuss how these themes manifest in Maria’s relationships, especially her affair with Aristotle Onassis. How did her fame impact her personal life?
  3. The book provides glimpses into the glamorous world of the rich and famous during the 1950s and 1960s. What aspects of this world fascinated you, and how did it contribute to the overall atmosphere of the story?
  4. Maria’s struggle to protect her voice and navigate the competitive opera world is a recurring theme. How did the author depict the challenges faced by Maria as an artist, and how did these challenges shape her character?
  5. Aristotle Onassis plays a significant role in Maria’s life. Explore the dynamics of their relationship and how it evolves throughout the novel. What impact does Aristotle have on Maria’s career and personal growth?
  6. To what extent does Maria’s relationship with her mother shape her trajectory in life? Does her quest for maternal approval contribute significantly to her transformation into the iconic star she becomes?
  7. Is Maria justified in severing all ties with her mother following the incident in the fur shop in Mexico City?
  8. In the Callas/Meneghini marriage, who emerges as the victim? Is Maria being exploited by Meneghini for financial gain, or is she leveraging him to handle the practical aspects of her career?
  9. The novel touches on themes of betrayal and heartbreak, especially in Maria’s relationship with Aristotle. How did Maria cope with these emotional challenges, and in what ways did they contribute to her ultimate triumph?
  10. The book features appearances by iconic figures such as Princess Grace of Monaco, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Discuss the role of these historical figures in shaping the narrative and providing context to Maria’s story.
  11. What aspects of Onassis attract Maria and lead her to fall in love with him?
  12. Why does Maria disregard Elsa’s warning about Onassis’s interest being solely in her fame?
  13. What factors contribute to Maria’s decision to leave Meneghini for Onassis? Do you believe it was the right choice?
  14. Maria’s love for Aristotle Onassis is a central element in the novel. How did the author portray the complexities of their relationship, and did your perception of their love change throughout the story?
  15. Maria has always felt the ticking of the clock on her career, understanding that each performance consumes the capital of her talent. How does this awareness impact her choices and behavior throughout her journey?
  16. To what extent do the opera heroines Maria portrays influence her own behavior and decisions?
  17. Besides their nationality, what commonalities do Maria and Onassis share?
  18. The novel also explores Maria’s internal struggles, including her fears about the limitations of her voice. How did these personal challenges contribute to the overall narrative, and do you think they added depth to Maria’s character?
  19. Princess Grace asserts that Maria Callas will be the only name remembered in a hundred years. Do you agree with this prediction?
  20. In the relationship between Maria and Onassis, did he give her as much as he took from her?
  21. What prompts Onassis to reconnect with Maria after marrying Jackie Kennedy?
  22. Reflect on the ending of the novel. How did Maria’s journey, both in love and in her career, impact you as a reader? Did you find the resolution satisfying, and why or why not?
  23. In the book’s conclusion, do you perceive Maria as a victim or the heroine of her own story?
  24. Compare “Diva” to other historical fiction novels you’ve read. What sets this novel apart, and what elements contribute to its uniqueness?
  25. If you have read Daisy Goodwin’s other works, such as “The American Heiress” or “Victoria,” discuss any common themes or writing styles you observed in “Diva.”

Additional Recommendations

Hope you enjoyed the book club discussion questions and reading guide for Diva by Daisy Goodwin. Here are some more of my book club recommendations with themes related to this book, along with their synopses:

The Bullet Swallower by Elizabeth Gonzalez James

A dazzling magical realism western in the vein of Cormac McCarthy meets Gabriel García Márquez, The Bullet Swallower follows a Mexican bandido as he sets off for Texas to save his family, only to encounter a mysterious figure who has come, finally, to collect a cosmic debt generations in the making.

In 1895, Antonio Sonoro is the latest in a long line of ruthless men. He’s good with his gun and is drawn to trouble but he’s also out of money and out of options. A drought has ravaged the town of Dorado, Mexico, where he lives with his wife and children, and so when he hears about a train laden with gold and other treasures, he sets off for Houston to rob it—with his younger brother Hugo in tow. But when the heist goes awry and Hugo is killed by the Texas Rangers, Antonio finds himself launched into a quest for revenge that endangers not only his life and his family, but his eternal soul.

In 1964, Jaime Sonoro is Mexico’s most renowned actor and singer. But his comfortable life is disrupted when he discovers a book that purports to tell the entire history of his family beginning with Cain and Abel. In its ancient pages, Jaime learns about the multitude of horrific crimes committed by his ancestors. And when the same mysterious figure from Antonio’s timeline shows up in Mexico City, Jaime realizes that he may be the one who has to pay for his ancestors’ crimes, unless he can discover the true story of his grandfather Antonio, the legendary bandido El Tragabalas, The Bullet Swallower.

A family saga that’s epic in scope and magical in its blood, and based loosely on the author’s own great-grandfather, The Bullet Swallower tackles border politics, intergenerational trauma, and the legacies of racism and colonialism in a lush setting and stunning prose that asks who pays for the sins of our ancestors, and whether it is possible to be better than our forebears.

Unsinkable by Jenni L Walsh

The Titanic was only the beginning. What she survived has become legend. Inspired by true stories of survival and resilience, Unsinkable entwines the lives of two women, one from World War 1 and another from World War 2, as they face adversity and take hold of the second chances given to them.

Violet Jessop is Miss Unsinkable.

After her mother becomes too ill to work, the responsibility to provide for the family falls to Violet as the oldest of nine. When the world enters the Great War, she serves as a nurse, helping men who could very well be her brothers. Working as a stewardess and wartime nurse, Violet not only survives a shipwreck but also two sinkings, one on the infamous Titanic. No one can understand why she would return to sea, but something keeps drawing Violet back to the tumultuous waters, where she struggles to put the tragedies of her past behind her and pursue a life and love all her own.

Daphne has survived calamity of her own.

Daphne Chaundanson grows up as an unwanted child after her mother died in a tragedy. She throws herself into education, collecting languages like candy in a desperate attempt to finally earn her father’s approval. When the Special Operations Executive invites her to be an agent in France in World War II, her childhood of anonymity and her love of languages make her the perfect fit. She sees it as an opportunity to help the country she loves and live up to her father’s expectations. But the dangers of war challenge Daphne in ways she never could have expected, and the secrets from her own past must be faced for her to truly have a future beyond the conflict–if she can survive it.

Inspired by true stories of Violet Jessop and the thirty-nine women of the Special Operations Executive. Two unsinkable women. Two stories of survival, family, and finding one’s own happiness. One connection that reshapes both their lives forever.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

A story about a true crime journalist who revives a long-buried case about a cult—and finds herself too close.

Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl into believing her baby was the anti-Christ. When the girl came to her senses and called the police, the Angels committed suicide and mother and baby disappeared.

Now, true crime author Amanda Bailey is looking to revive her career by writing a book on the case. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen; finding them will be the scoop of the year. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realize that the truth about the Angels is much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined, and in pursuit of the story they risk becoming part of it.

Happy reading! ❤️