March 13, 2017 by Zoë
In an asylum in Yorkshire, John and Ella meet in the ballroom where they are allowed to dance each week. The Ballroom by Anna Hope follows their lives in the asylum: they’re not mad and they’re going to get out. Or are they? What is madness?
I requested this book from Netgalley on a whim. The setting sounded interesting, but other than that I didn’t think much about it. As it turned out, this was a lovely little book. Obviously the setting makes it very dark, but the prose is lovely and the story moves along without feeling forced or trite. I also found the end moving, fitting, and satisfying–something that I was worried about as the story progressed.
I also found the story of Ella’s friend Clem particularly thought provoking and touching. She was the character I connected with most and I tended to follow her through the story to see what happened next.
A couple of things in the plot were hard for me to believe, particularly concerning Ella’s storyline. (I’ll comment further if you want, but I don’t want to put any spoilers in the review itself.) Because I was particularly interested in Clem, the sections from points of view that weren’t Ella’s sometimes dragged for me a little bit. This was probably my problem, though, and not an overall pacing problem.
Overall, this was a nice, thoughtful, historical fiction piece that read beautifully. Definitely go look for it if any of those things are up your alley!
“The sky above was blue, deep blue, but it hummed and buzzed, as if the blue were only a sheet and behind it, waiting to be rended free, lay black and boiling weather.”
I received an electronic copy of this book through Netgalley for this review.