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About The Book

From the author of the bestselling “jaunty, heartbreaking winner” (People) Dear Mrs. Bird, a charming and irresistible novel featuring aspiring journalist Emmy Lake as she navigates life, love, and friendship in London during World War II—perfect for fans of The Paris Library and Lessons in Chemistry.

London, April 1943. Twenty-five-year-old Emmy Lake is doing her part for the war effort by spearheading the hugely popular “Yours Cheerfully” advice column in Woman’s Friend magazine. The postbags are full, Emmy’s guidance offers much needed support to her readers, and Woman’s Friend is thriving. Cheered on by her best friends Bunty and Thelma, and resolute in the absence of her husband who is fighting in the army, Emmy is dedicated to helping women face the increasing challenges brought about by over three years of war.

But Emmy’s world is turned upside down when glamorous socialite, the Honorable Cressida Porter, becomes the new publisher of the magazine, and wants to change everything about it. Aided by Mrs. Pye, a Paris-obsessed editor with delusions of grandeur, and Small Winston, the grumpiest dog in London, Mrs. Porter fills the pages with expensive fashions and frivolous articles about her friends. Worst of all, she announces that she is cutting the advice column. Her vision for the publication’s future is dreadful and Emmy is determined to fight back.

Emmy and her friends must save the magazine they love, but when personal tragedy strikes, they are forced to face the very real implications of life in war-torn London.

Set in 1943 but inherently resonant with how we live today, Pearce’s signature blend of laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreakingly sad storytelling delivers a tribute to the strength of friendships. An enriching story about women coming together, Pearce’s latest novel is the perfect tonic for our times.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for MRS. PORTER CALLING includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Mrs. Porter Calling is the third book in the Emmy Lake Chronicles—a series that follows plucky journalist Emmy Lake through wartime London.

London, November 1941. Things are looking up for ever-cheerful Emmeline Lake. Emmy is the advice columnist for Woman’s Friend magazine, her boyfriend-turned-husband, Charles, is sending letters from the front, and Emmy’s best friend, Bunty, is by her side through it all.

But Emmy meets her match in glamorous socialite, the Honourable Mrs. Cressida Porter, who takes over as publisher of Woman’s Friend and plans to change everything. With her grumpy dog in tow, Mrs. Porter announces that she is cutting Emmy’s “Yours Cheerfully” column and restructuring the magazine, filling the pages with expensive clothes and vapid articles about her posh friends.

Emmy must work out how she can bring everyone together and save Woman’s Friend before it’s too late.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Emmy recognizes the importance of staying cheerful as the country, and her husband, faces the war. How does Emmy find the strength to remain optimistic? How do you imagine you would have fared in this time period?

2. While Charles is away, Emmy sends him a letter “almost every day” (5), even though they aren’t always delivered. If Charles were able to write daily—and not have his letters censored—what do you think he’d tell Emmy about his experiences? Do you imagine other men in his unit received letters with the same frequency?

3. When it’s announced that Mrs. Porter will be the new publisher, Emmy is excited, especially about the prospect of a woman in a leadership role. Do you think the war gave women a better opportunity to achieve career success? If so, in which fields do you think this is and in which is it not true?

4. When Mrs. Porter arrives, she quickly makes changes, starting with the décor. What changes did Mrs. Porter make that improved the magazine and the working conditions there? Compare those with the changes she made that, in Emmy’s point of view, made the publication worse.

5. The book emphasizes the necessity of everyone doing their part during a crisis. What might you have been doing to help during such a turbulent time?

6. Emmy asks: “Is it better to always be truthful to your husband, or to lie through your teeth so he doesn’t worry about something he can do nothing about” (118). How would you respond to this question? Is honesty always the best policy?

7. Examine the different types of relationships—romantic, familial, and platonic—throughout the book. How do these relationships shift throughout the story? Which ones are strengthened and which are weakened throughout the narrative?

8. Guy makes “efforts to be delightful with Mrs. Porter” (146). Does treating her with kindness prompt her to treat the staff better? Or could it somehow validate her behavior?

9. Thelma and Emmy leaf through American magazines and are amused by the different colloquialisms and terms throughout—how Americans say salad dressing instead of England’s salad cream, and the two women laugh at a bra advertisement’s: “Superb bosom contours guaranteed” (159). What British sayings did you enjoy in the book?

10. When the news of the Whitehall Cinema bombing is announced, Guy “put[s] on a front with the children” (223). Discuss whether you think it is possible to protect children from difficult news during wartime, or any time. How can we best support children through traumatic loss?

11. Imagine the future for Emmy, Bunty, and all their friends as the war continues. How do you think they might fare in the next instalment of AJ Pearce’s Emmy Lake Chronicles?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. If you haven’t read the other books in the Emmy Lake Chronicles, start reading Dear Mrs. Bird!

2. Queue up this playlist of wartime songs to set a 1940s vibe for your book club meeting:

3. If Mrs. Porter Calling has piqued your interest in vintage magazines, author AJ Pearce suggests keeping an eye out in thrift stores or searching on eBay, where she has found hundreds of magazines from the era for her collection. If you already own some, bring them to the book club meeting.

4. Wartime snacks! The recipes in AJ’s novels are inspired by those she has found in old magazines and cookbooks. If your book club usually has snacks, find some ration-friendly recipes online, from rock cakes to cookies similar to the oatmeal buttons Bunty makes for Thelma in Mrs. Porter Calling.

5. AJ Pearce says that one of the nicest things about meeting readers is when they tell her about their own family’s involvement in World War II. If people in your book club are happy to share stories or memories handed down to them, invite them to share.

6. What are your favorite films or television series about World War II? If the Emmy Lake Chronicles were a series or film, who would you cast as the main characters?

About The Author

Credit: Jenny Smith

AJ Pearce grew up in Hampshire, England. She studied at the University of Sussex and Northwestern University. A chance discovery of a 1939 women’s magazine became the inspiration for her series The Emmy Lake Chronicles, which includes Dear Mrs. BirdYours Cheerfully, and Mrs. Porter Calling. She lives in the south of England.

About The Reader

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (August 8, 2023)
  • Runtime: 10 hours and 52 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797162362

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