The Ballroom by Anna Hope
Release date- Sept.6, 2016
This was a really interesting look at Asylum care and the Eugenics program in 1911 England. This book is heartbreaking but beautifully written. I felt the characters were fleshed out nicely and even the peripheral character’s felt real and not cardboard cutouts. We learn about some of the reasons people were put in an asylum and believe you me I’d be in big trouble for all the reading I do.
As Dr. Fuller wrote,
” Unlike Music, excessive reading has been shown to be dangerous to the female mind.”
Ella is who we meet first and she has been admitted for breaking a window where she works but she doesn’t quite understand how she ended up in Sharston Asylum because she isn’t mad or is she? Once she is settled she meets Clem, Clem is always reading and says she is here just to figure things out and can leave any time but can we believe her she does seem pretty sane compared to some of the ladies here.
Then we meet John he is an Irishman who has melancholy such a pretty word for depression, something in Johns past has deeply affected him and he barely talks and when he first got there he didn’t speak at all. But John is a really good soul and the crazy chance meeting between him and Ella seems to change them both.
Dr. Fuller thinks that music will help calm patients so he plays piano in the day room but what is going on while those patients are distracted by the music is disturbing. He also puts together a band and they have dances on Friday night in the grand Ballroom, this is the only time there is interaction between the male and female patients but it does seem to be having to effect he was looking for. Dr. Fuller is also against eugenics which is in its infancy and I was shocked to find out that Churchill was a huge proponent of Eugenics which was mighty disappointing. But our Dr.Fuller showed so much promise in the beginning but alas ended up with not so much. (no spoilers)
I really liked this book and wanted to get back to it whenever I had to put it down, yes it is sad but it is beautifully written and I would highly recommend it!
I received this book from Netgalley & the publisher for a fair and honest review.
And of course after reading the authors note that she changed the name but this Asylum with the ballroom did exist I had to do some research and found this site with pictures of the ballroom.