Where love is your only escape ….
1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
When John and Ella meet
It is a dance that will change
two lives forever.
Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.
This book will probably cause a big bang when it is released, and I think it’s definitely worth it. I was hooked from the get-go and couldn’t wait to find out the ending… and when I did, I cried so much, both from happiness and sorrow.
This book is intense. I found myself questioning the motives and behaviour of several characters, and ended up being right about whether or not they were dangerous. Charles, for example, started out as a character that I could relate to, but he became more and more psychotic as the book went on, and I ended up loathing him by the end. What is more frightening as that people like him did exist, and do exist, and are in positions of power like he was.
So in between being frightened and concerned by Charles, there is a blossoming (though vaguely implausible and insta-loveish) romance blossoming between Ella and John, which was really quite cute, but yeah… the insta-love was real. He saw her running to escape and boom! In love. Sorry, not buying it completely. Their method of keeping their relationship going was very cute though, and I was both pleased and incredibly upset by the ending.
Hope got the atmosphere of pain, menace and filth in the asylum perfectly right, and it left me on edge the whole way through the novel. It really felt like anything could be around the next corner, similarly to Sarah Water’s atmospheric tension in Affinity or Fingersmith. It was this aspect of the novel that really grabbed me, as I like being kept on edge in novels like this! I also love the setting of a Victorian madhouse, prison, orphanage etc. at the best of times, so this really hit that spot for me!
I’ve purchased Wake to read at some point in the future, but I’m a bit afraid to read it… it’s dealing with a topic so close to my heart that it could go two ways… I could find mistakes and pick the hell out of it and make myself angry, or I’ll adore it and wish I’d written it and fret over the fact that everyone is doing the thing that I want to do now and oh my god there’ll be nothing left for me *rolls up in a ball*
Anyway, I recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction with a bit of a creepy twist, coz creepy is here in spades. Also to anyone who likes a bit of medical drama/historically accurate medical fiction, because based on my own research, Hope got it pretty much spot on.