Read the ballroom a novel by Anna Hope Online


From the internationally acclaimed author of Wake comes a haunting story of love, insanity, and revolution set at the brink of the Great War.Yorkshire, England, 1911: After a moment of defiance at the factory where she has worked since she was a child, Ella Fay finds herself an unwilling patient at the Sharston Asylum. Ella knows she is not mad, but she might have to learnFrom the internationally acclaimed author of Wake comes a haunting story of love, insanity, and revolution set at the brink of the Great War.Yorkshire, England, 1911: After a moment of defiance at the factory where she has worked since she was a child, Ella Fay finds herself an unwilling patient at the Sharston Asylum. Ella knows she is not mad, but she might have to learn to play the game before she can make a true bid for freedom. John Mulligan is a chronic patient, frozen with grief since the death of his child, but when Ella runs towards him one morning in an attempt to escape the place where he has found refuge, everything changes. It is in the ornate ballroom at the centre of the asylum, where the male and female patients are allowed to gather every Friday evening to dance, that Ella and John begin a tentative, secret correspondence that will have shattering consequences, as love and the possibility of redemption are set against one ambitious doctor's eagerness to make his mark in the burgeoning field of eugenics, at all costs.      Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, at a time when England was at the point of revolt, The Ballroom is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which....

Title : the ballroom a novel
Author :
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ISBN : 28690387
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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the ballroom a novel Reviews

  • Angela M
    2019-06-18 00:12

    I haven't had much time to write this review since I finished reading this book a couple of days ago, but I've been thinking about these characters and their story - so much so that as I'm writing this, I have decided to up my rating from 4+ to 5 stars. It was just shy of 5 stars for me because I felt it a little slow at times, but the more I thought about it, I realized how the slow moving time really depicted what it was like for these patients as they waited for the next dance in The Ballroom or waited for a time when they would be free.I was very much reminded of What She Left Behind, a novel about people in an asylum in upstate NY. This one in England didn't seem a whole lot different where you may be institutionalized when you may not be mentally ill, and subjected to awful treatment, both physical and psychological and where the actions of asylum staff are more disturbing than the actions for which the patients are deemed insane. There are three narrative perspectives here . Ella, a young woman who has lived a life of abuse at home and has a hard working life at a mill, breaks a window to see the sky and is admitted to the asylum. John, an Irish farmer has suffered losses and is sent here from the workhouses. Charles, an insecure doctor, escaping his father and a tedious life, wants to do something important but it is horrible and at the expense of Tom, Ella, and Ella's friend Clem.It's hard to read at times. The beautiful possibilities of friendship and love in such a dark place and these unforgettable characters were the only lights. In some respects, this is a commentary on the mental health treatment in the early 1900's, a personal statement as the author tells us that her great-great grandfather was a patient in an asylum, but at its core, this is a love story that will touch anyone with a heart. There are many books that have given me a knot in my stomach, a lump in my throat, and a few that make me cry . This was one that did all three. It's haunting and gnawing , yet beautifully writtenThanks to Random House Publishing Group - Random House and NetGalley.

  • Melissa
    2019-06-17 01:05

    Well, this wasn’t the experience I had hoped for. There’s a tiny part of me that feels this story teetered on the very edge of being something great—something memorable even—but then there’s the rational part of me that can admit, it missed the mark. Big time. This was an extremely drab and depressing story, even for me—someone who frequently dabbles in dark reads.It was all the eerie possibilities an asylum could offer a storyline, along with the glowing reviews I’d seen from other readers, that unknowingly encouraged me to pick up The Ballroom. On some level, I thought this would be hauntingly beautiful. Captivating. Stunning. Instead, I found myself succumbing to page after page of flat and often emotionless drivel. Meaning I could only handle this book in small doses—hence the snail’s pace, one month read. The fact that these people landed themselves in an asylum, for one ridiculous reason or another, with no idea where they’d ultimately end up, was unimaginable. Heartbreaking even. The normally segregated patients being able to congregate for a dance—in a grand ballroom, with the opposite sex, every Friday night—managed to stir up something akin to hope. Could music and dance mollify their troubles?There’s a love story within these pages, but it’s mostly overshadowed by the unraveling of the other characters. Despite the considerable amount of time it takes for the relationship to come to fruition, their feelings still felt a little rushed and underdeveloped. I found myself questioning why they had these feelings for each other, but I never could find the answer. The letters didn’t touch me emotionally and the ballroom wasn’t as large of a part of the story as it should have been.Other than John, I can’t say that I was enamored with any of the characters. I found Ella to be extremely dull and I struggled to connect with Clem or consider their interaction a friendship. Something about Charles initially bored me and those feelings turned to disdain when he flipped the script way too quickly and without much forethought or reasoning. In my opinion, there was more than enough room for deeper character development here. There were so many things that went unsaid for the sake of giving words to those that didn’t strengthen the power of the story. Even after everything I've said up to this point, I still wouldn't consider this to be a horrible book. I think it’s best described as slow and mundane. The author gives a nice backstory in her acknowledgements and links the storyline to some actual history, but overall, The Ballroom failed to provide a deeper meaning for me or even a clearcut plot. Was there one? What was the point of the story? Did I somehow fail to see it because I was focusing too much on that depressing ending?*Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Karen G
    2019-05-26 20:09

    Update: since I can't stop thinking about this I'm moving this up to 5 starsIreland 1911Love found in an insane asylum by a man and woman who were institutionalized without having a mental disorder. This is what was heartbreaking. People locked up for no reason.The Ballroom in the asylum was used on Friday nights for dances for the men and women who were housed separately, this being their only bright spot of the week.The doctor who was in charge of these patients started out a caring man and then turned evil and really gave this story suspense.This book was dark, but there were glimpses of hope. I loved a few of the characters and felt their pain.Despite the heartbreak, this is a very good book!

  • Jen
    2019-06-01 00:14

    I hate that this is over.For one day a week, 2 hours on a Friday night, both women and men who have been segregated in the asylum, are brought together in the ballroom. For one night, they have the pleasure of listening to music and dancing as if they were normal. Where for 2 hours they feel human. They feel hope. They feel a connection. Until it's decided that it be stopped - as an act of punishment.I loved the characters - Ella, in an act of defiance - although recognized as deviance - is imprisoned in the asylum. John, after losing his only daughter goes into a deep depression and he too, is placed in this hospital for lunatics. In the loneliness and madness that surrounds them, they find each other and a romance blossoms until the rules change and their very existence is questioned.And dear Clem - the avid reader - who befriends Ella. Charles, the doctor - whose initial beliefs on patient reform was well ahead of his time until his goodwill is not reciprocated and becomes diabolical and vengeful.This was an atmospheric and descriptive read. While I was enraptured with the story it made my veins pulse. The views of that time held by those who were considered intelligent, just made my head spin. And the epilogue well, it just tore out my heart and left me feeling a little heavier.A moving and memorable story. Loved it 5*****

  • Amalia Gavea
    2019-05-25 03:57

    This has been a difficult review in the sense that I, initially, couldn't pinpoint what it was that didn't feel right for me. Up to the middle, I knew I liked it enough to continue reading, my overall impression was positive, but it wasn't fulfilling my expectations.In a certain degree, I am still conflicted and divided over a few parts of the novel. And then, something happened and the book started coming to life.I started The Ballroom by Anna Hope with enthusiasm. Stories that are set in asylums, dealing with mental illness have always fascinated me. There is something profound, humbling even, in diving right into the deepest recesses of the human brain and witness how much difference can a single stimulus make, however slight or unimportant it may seem. Moreover, novels that are set in asylums are full of characters that have no reason to be there, other than the prejudices and norms on which the societies of the past were built. Whoever dares to walk away from conformities is branded a ''lunatic'', deemed a danger to the ''good people''. Here, we have an interesting premise. In the asylum of our story, in Yorkshire, there is a special hall called The Ballroom. The patients,men and women, who are well-behaved are rewarded when they are chosen to take part in the waltz-evenings, under the sound of Dr. Fuller's piano.The characters in focus are four. Ella, a young woman who broke a window in her workplace, John Mulligan from Ireland, who is harbouring family secrets, Clem, a young upper-class girl and Dr. Fuller who is the character that drived the story forward.There is a great risk of spoilers with The Ballroom. What I can safely say is that I found the plot of eugenics really interesting,if terrifying. The particular notion isn't something new. A number of scientists serving their own distorted ideas of pure societies, some distinguished public figures of the time, and a handful of totalitarian states desired to bring it to action. There are voices - however weak - still supporting it today, which fills me with horror over the future of mankind, but this is a discussion for another time.The characters are wel-drawn. Ella is sensible, sensitive and with tremendous resources of inner strength, as is John. He has the characteristics of a tragic figure, his sense of freedom being his driving force and in my opinion, he is the one the reader can immediately connect with. Clem was an unsympathetic, irritating character in my eyes. And Dr. Fuller? There's so much storm inside him, so much darkness and illusions, so many secrets. (view spoiler)[What starts as a force of good becomes the most evil presence in the narration. (hide spoiler)] When his character comes into focus,though, the tides change and the novel finds its pace, becoming a whirlwind of events.What I enjoyed was the fact that the love plot of The Ballroom was well-written and given in a poetic, but not melodramatic way. Did I find it realistic? No. I didn't even find it plausible, but sometimes we must part with our reservations and appeciate a story for it sheer beauty. The writing is balanced, if a little slow. It took me some time to connect with the characters and the heart of the narration. The dialogue is realistic, but at the same time, it retains a certain dream-like quality. I appreciated the fact that Anna Hope didn't spend time describing other patients' stories, it would be unecessary as the novel already has its share of darkness as it is.So, I could actually rate The Ballroom with 3.5 stars in order to be absolutely honest. However, the way the story is developed and the structure of the characters cannot but carry you with them. (view spoiler)[I read the last page having feelings that were a mix of sadness and frustration rather than hope. But I know that most of the ''real'' life stories end in such a way, instead of a ''happily-ever- after''... (hide spoiler)]

  • Linda
    2019-06-13 23:14

    I received a copy of The Ballroom by Anna Hope through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Random House and to Anna Hope for the opportunity."Who would know the things inside her if she stayed in this place?"Ella Fay has cast her lot by breaking a covered window in a factory where she labored in a most bleek manner as a spinner. The tight threads cut into her swollen fingers and those same threads entangled upon her thoughts of freedom. She wished beseechingly for a glimpse of blue sky.Being female, she was diagnosed as suffering from hysteria (from the Greek word for womb) and brought to Sharston Asylum in the Yorkshire moors. Anger and outbursts were on a long list of "conditions" that would readily escort you into an asylum quick as a beggar's wink as this story takes place in 1911. Even "excessive reading" was thought to taint the female mind. Dr. Charles Fuller, newly assigned to the asylum, is in charge of Ella's case. Ironically, just as a strong urge to escape her surroundings impells Ella to act out, Fuller wishes to escape the clutches of his successful surgeon father and his overbearing mother. We will experience a transformation in character in the likes of Fuller who introduces music and dance to the male and female patients of the asylum.The ballroom and its center stage of musicians brings a touch of beauty to these patients. And here is where Ella will meet John Mulligan, a tall, sturdy Irishman, escaping the hardships and sorrows of his former life. They allow the lilt of the music to break down barriers and soon find themselves deeply attracted to one another....seeing spirit from eye into eye.Dr. Fuller is slowly drawn into the scientific study of Eugenics, a controlled breeding of a population in order to assure superiority. The Feeble-Minded Control Bill has been introduced into the government at this time. The asylums are overflowing with patients especially from the pauper class. Compassion seems to be taking a side-step and the element of humanity waits on a distant shore.There is such depth in the characterizations here of Ella, Fuller, and John. Anna Hope uses the scope of perspective in each chapter as the storyline pivots and focuses on each. We also are introduced to the character of Clem who becomes Ella's friend and confidante. The writing of Anna Hope is something to savor and to hold in outstretched palms like the soft feathers of a tiny bird. "He found he could not speak, as though all the words inside him had been pushed to the bottom of a dark well."I must encourage you, dear reader, to open the pages of this book in order to follow the path cut into the dark moors. Where do the footsteps of Ella and John lead? Can the breath of hope survive in even the most dire of circumstances? It's perched on the corner of each and every page that you turn.

  • Susanne Strong
    2019-05-30 21:54

    4.5 Heartfelt Stars!"The Ballroom" by Anna Hope was my very first Traveling Sister Group Read with Brenda, Norma, Lindsay and JanB. It was an amazingly rewarding experience with incredibly kind, inspiring, smart and simply wonderful women. The group read and discussions that ensued, opened my eyes to a lot of things about the book that I would not have thought of otherwise. "The Ballroom" is a novel that I found to be brilliantly written, evocative and full of heart. While I loved all of the characters in the book, my favorite, by far, was Clem. She captured my soul. The author, Anna Hope created something special when writing this incredible read and when creating her. This novel reminded me of "What She Left Behind" by Ellen Wiseman, though I must say that this one stole my heart in a very unusual way and I'm glad it did. To find out more, please see our Traveling Sister Read Review, located on Brenda and Norma's fabulous blog at:://www.twogirlslostinacouleereading.word...

  • Lindsay
    2019-05-19 04:09

    4.5 stars! What a touching and unforgettable read! This was our first Traveling Sister Read with Norma, Brenda, JanB and Susanne. We had such a wonderfully enjoyable time reading this together! It sparked a lot of deep discussion and it was very interesting to get to know everyone's perspectives and opinions.This novel was haunting, intense, heart breaking and heart warming for me. I truly enjoyed reading every single page. For me, the storyline was very unique and unpredictable which I loved. The author, Anna Hope, did a FANTASTIC job with the character development. I am in awe of Hope's ability to draw the reader into the lives of each of the characters in an equally intriguing way.I would HIGHLY recommend this wonderful novel.To find our Traveling Sister Read Review, please visit Brenda and Norma's fabulous blog at:https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....

  • Elyse
    2019-05-23 23:02

    Library audiobook -- so-so about the narrator's delivery. Even though it was read well, I didn't feel much of a spark. I appreciate other readers passion for this story..... the authors research, and the authors personal intimacy-interest to the history of asylum life ( Anna Hope's grandfather was committed to the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 1909). Personally, I liked it enough to finish it - yet I didn't love it. I got tired of the dreamy-floating-airy-type descriptions. I felt the author spent more emphasis on the development of the scenery - landscape - even clothes the characters wore more than she did in developing the characters themselves. Even the passing of letters fell flat for me. I appreciate the importance of the book - yet I still wanted to feel more engaged with my own enthusiasm. I was very neutral about this book. Overall I felt the flow of the pacing was very uneven. It's heartbreaking that patients were institutionalize against their will--Yet....Parts of the story felt superfluous- excessive - long winded -- and sooo slow.... but then the ending felt very rushed. The part I found most interesting was the history of Eugenics--which I've read about before in other books. I thought the author did an excellent job getting across that leaders in our country and around the world wanted to sterilize feeble minded people. People living in 2017 who suffer with mental disabilities... or are hysterical - types - or have depression - or problems with anger management- or are lonely -- or any other un-wanted behavior can at least be blessed they are not living in 1909.

  • Norma
    2019-06-14 23:00

    THE BALLROOM by ANNA HOPE was our very first Traveling Sisters Group Read which I read along with Brenda, Lindsay, Susanne and JanB and what an awesome experience it was! There was a lot of great insight into this wonderful book and wouldn't have picked up on some of it if I wasn't reading it along with some other wonderful women! So thank you everyone who participated in this group read!This was an extremely good read! It was touching, heartbreaking, and absolutely unforgettable!Highly recommend this beautifully written novel! The full Traveling Sisters Review can be found on our Sister Blog:http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...

  • PorshaJo
    2019-06-11 02:06

    Picture it. An asylum, Sharston Asylum, which is a place for the mentally ill. You are placed here for such things as being mentally unstable, breaking a window, melancholy, etc. Then, picture, a large ballroom with balconies and vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. Wait what? Yes, a big beautiful ballroom where on Friday nights, the men and the women from the asylum, who are normally segregated, get to dance for two short hours. To say that it is a highlight of the week for the patients is an understatement.The Ballroom is a disturbing and haunting story of what took place in asylums in the 1900's in Europe and probably many other places. The story is told from three points of view, two patients, John and Ella, and their doctor, Charles. Each chapter is told from one of their perspectives. When the book started, it was beautiful. The elation that the patients felt at listening to the music, but really, dancing to it in the ballroom on Friday evenings. But their doctor has something to prove. He learns of the Eugenics Education Society, where there is a movement that advocates the improvement of human hereditary qualities through selective breeding. Let's just say the doctor is on the wrong side and should be a patient himself. There are a few wonderful characters in the book that also add to the story.I listened to this one via audio and the narrator was great (Daniel Weyman). I loved his accent, the voices he did, and the narration added to the overall atmosphere of the book. I wanted to like this one more than I did. I wanted to hear more of the ballroom and the dances, more of the characters, but the story ended up taking a more sinister turn. Overall, glad I read this one.

  • Julie
    2019-06-14 00:51

    The Ballroom by Anna Hope is a 2016 McClelland & Stewart publication. I really had no idea what to expect when I started this book. The synopsis was intriguing, but I couldn’t tell if this book was a romance or pure historical fiction. I suppose it’s a little bit of both, but I never could have guessed at the direction this book would take. In 1911 Ella sealed her fate by committing the oh so heinous crime of breaking a window at the factory she worked as a spinner. She only wanted a glimpse of the outdoors, but was quickly diagnosed as hysterical and sent to Sharston Asylum. If the patients are well behaved they are allowed to visit the ballroom, where they will meet the men who are housed in a separate location of the asylum, where they can hear music and dance. This is where Ella meets John and a correspondence develops between them. But, Ella is under the watchful eye of her doctor, Charles Fuller, who is escaping his own private hell, as well as becoming interested in Eugenics.Once the story got rolling the atmosphere swings from harrowing, to a sweet romance, to suspenseful, to horrifying, and then finally finds a peace of sorts by the end of the novel.If you read this book, I can promise you, it will stick with you a long, long, long time. I have caught myself, in quiet moments, thinking about these characters, this unforgettably haunting story, that cast an unusually heavy spell over me. The asylum is a very unlikely place for a couple to meet and fall in love, but, despite the heaviness and gloom, this is exactly what happens. It is also the setting for the development of a deep bond of friendship, between Ella and Clem, a woman who helps Ella cope with being locked away in such a bleak, oppressive, and terrifying place. The atmosphere, and utter horror the patients, are subjected to, is a powerful eye opener, especially when the topic of Eugenics is raised. The power over the residents or ‘patients’ in the asylum in this era of time is astounding and made my skin crawl. The story is told from John, Charles, and Ella’s first person perspectives, each chronicling their desires, hopes, goals, deep thoughts and feelings. Naturally, the story rolls on into a virtual nightmare, that is absolutely harrowing as, ironically, the good doctor descends into an insane madness of his own, which made my stomach roil, as a truly terrifying sense of foreboding hung thick in the air. This story will give your emotions a real workout, will educate you, horrify you, and break your heart, but above all, will tell a tender, bittersweet and poignant love story, which is the part I’ve locked away in my heart and memory. If you close the book with dry eyes, you are a much stronger person than I. 4 stars

  • Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
    2019-05-21 04:02

    This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The language is almost poetic, the descriptions draw you into the scenery, the characters are carefully and cleverly crafted.The story is set in an lunatic asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire moors in 1911 and revolves around four central characters. An asylum should be a place of refuge, where the insane are cared for and protected. This is far from the truth. And it is far from true that everyone incarcerated within is insane.Ella Fay worked in a mill where all the windows were painted over to prevent the workers from looking outside and wasting their employers time. Desperate to see the sky, to not be confined in this prison of noise and cloth that leeches the life out of her, Ella breaks a window and is then confined to Sharston Asylum until such time she can be declared sane and not a danger to herself or others. Clemency has been incarcerated by her father and brother for refusing to marry a man who used to teach her. A man who was not kind to her, and who may already have abused her trust and that of her family. Clemency is a private patient - her family pay to keep her there - and she is able to wear her own clothes rather than the asylum uniform, and to have some of her own treasured belongings.Charles Fuller is the son of an eminent surgeon, Charles destined to follow in his footsteps. But instead of studying for his exams, he is seduced by music and fails miserably. He takes the position of Second Assistant Medical Officer at Sharston (one of four), purely because he is also to have the role of bandmaster.John Mulligan is a solitary type of man, and resident of one of the 'chronic' (long term) wards. He is a kind man, keeping some of his bread ration to feed the canary imprisoned in a cage in the day room, and trusted enough to be one of a work party charged with digging the unmarked graves, each holding six coffins piled one atop the other, and working on the farm that supplies meat and grains to the asylum. The one point of beauty in Sharston is the Ballroom, vast and beautiful, where every Friday evening of every week selected patients (the ones who have 'been good') come together and dance. It is here that John and Ella meet for the second time and their fate is sealed.The Ballroom quietly details the atrocities and lack of kindness common in asylums. This is an emotional and heart-wrenching read, one I will come back to time and again. I award The Ballroom five very brilliant stars.Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers Doubleday for the ARC of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-06-01 22:17

    1911, Sharston Manor, an asylum for the mentally ill and feeble minded, located at the edge of the Yorkshire moors. A beautiful looking place that even contains a gorgeous ballroom. What goes on inside though doesn't match the beauty of the buildings appearance. Ella will find herself committed there after she breaks a window at the place she has worked since she was a young girl, she wanted only to see the sky. John will be brought there from the workhouses.Beautiful prose, magnificent rendering of setting, one can exactly see what it was like for these poor unfortunates. The atmosphere, yearning, sadness, melancholy and brief glimpses of friendship, love and joy, her words make is feel these emotions. Clem, Ella, John and the doctor Charles, a sexually conflicted man, who changes throughout this story and not for the better. Memorable characters all. The hubris of the people in power who thought they had the right to decide who should be able to bear or father children. Eugenics, a horrible time in history, an important part of this story.This story made me angry but also broke my heart. It is loosely based on an ancestor of the authors though as she explains in her afterword, his story wasn't quite the same. This hospital under a different name actually did exist for many years. The treatment for the mentally ill has come a long way but still has a long way to go.

  • Annet
    2019-06-01 00:06

    Beautiful. Simple, Sincere, Poetic. What else can I say... Just finished this lovely story. 1911: Set over the heatwave summer of 1911 at 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....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 a week, they come together and dance. When John and Ella meet, it is a dance that will change two lives forever. The story is told in chapters alternating between John, Ella, and Charles, the doctor. The doctor, who turns out to be maybe more insane than some of the inhabitants of the asylum, spiraling down a dark and desperate road. Beautiful writing, poetic, a romantic and tragic story. A heartbreaker...beautiful. More later... and...Very recommended.

  • Brenda
    2019-06-15 22:06

    4.5 Stars Our first Traveling Sisters Group Review by Brenda, Norma, Lindsay, Susanne and JanB!Our first pick for our Traveling Sisters Group Read was THE BALLROOM by ANNA HOPE and we all thought that it was the perfect book choice as we were all riding on the same emotional train with this one.THE BALLROOM by ANNA HOPE is a shocking, haunting, unforgettable, and a painful historical fiction novel that was beautifully written and made for some really great discussions along the way for us.ANNA HOPE opens up a part of the past and took us into the walls of an asylum, giving voices to the patients that lived there. She does a great job at defining what was considered “mad” from the past which was often a result or reaction to the outside world or the person's situation in their environment along with giving a voice to a character with an illness. ANNA HOPE sets the tone perfectly here and skillfully develops her characters. The story is told in three different points of views of our main characters Charles, Ella and John. We all loved their points of view and found each of them intriguing, believable, and compelling which doesn’t always happen with multiple points of view for us. The character of Clem stole our hearts and became the heart of the novel for us and her character didn’t even have her own POV. We found that aspect of the novel to be a very interesting choice of ANNA HOPE in the way that she portrayed Clem’s voice within the storyline. That is something I would love to ask her about. We see some of them grow and some of them destruct allowing us to feel anger, compassion and heartbreak.We found Charles to be the most complicated and interesting character who sparked most of our conversations and had us feeling angry and sad all at the same time. His self doubt, denial and obsessions gave us a good understanding of his inner struggles along with his feelings with what he considered to be right and for the better. As the story progresses we see how all that changes him. The ironic twist to Charles character was brilliant of ANNA HOPE. Clem’s character touched us the most and she became such an important character to us and the story. We all loved her and she brought on the most emotions from us. She left our hearts feeling warm and heartbroken at the same time. She will be a character we will remember and think of often. In the end it really had us thinking about the terrible things people can do when they believe they are doing good and not realizing the damage it causes. I guess maybe that is why sometimes looking into the past can be a window into the future. The ending has us feeling a bit differently towards it in some ways. Some of us thought it felt a bit unlikely and for others it was touching, hopeful, and moving. In the end we all agreed that the world is full of some remarkable coincidences at time. This left us feeling completely satisfied with the ending. Highly recommend. All our Traveling Sisters Review along with Norma and my reviews can be found on your sister blog:https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....

  • Cheri
    2019-05-28 02:56

    The Ballroom is quite a story. Lovely, anguished, heartbreaking. The Ballroom is based on an asylum, location-wise, near the Yorkshire moors, on the outskirts of the village of Menston, originally called the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum when it opened in 1888, later known as West Riding Mental Hospital. Later it was renamed High Royds Hospital, closing in 2004. To know that this story was based on this location, based on some documentation of some of the elements of The Ballroom gives this story that much more of an impact.It’s no secret, and certainly no surprise that mental health in 1911 would have been lacking in some of the compassion that we associate with the field these days, and yet there is still so much we don’t know, and ignorance, in all its many forms, breeds contempt. It doesn’t take a leap of faith to believe that the characters in The Ballroom could easily have been locked away in miserable conditions for reasons that had nothing to do with mental health. John, an Irishman, is one of the main characters and is a patient diagnosed with melancholia. Ella, a newer patient, was brought in after breaking a window at her work, a grueling spinning mill, dark, the air stale and dank. Clem is a young woman who befriends Ella, encouraging her to open up her heart. Charles is a new doctor, has issues of his own, he’s been a disappointment to his family his whole life, only feels himself through his violin. He joins the staff of Sharston Asylum who is seeking someone with musical talent. It gives him a place to live, a place where his musical abilities are appreciated. He begins with an outlook to prove that the once a week dances in The Ballroom will improve the mental outlook for the patients, and chooses to keep track of a select few as his case studies. John and Ella, both, among them. The Ballroom will change their lives forever. A beautifully written and compelling story, The Ballroom is more than occasionally dark and disturbing, while also attesting that love may still be found and flourish in the darkest of places and times.Publication Date: 6 Sep 2016Many thanks to Random House, NetGalley and to author Anna Hope for providing me with an advanced copy for reading and review.

  • Carol
    2019-05-25 19:48

    Slowly addictive and maddening tale of 1911 life in Sharston Asylum......In THE BALLROOM, two damaged lives find solace and hope through stolen moments and secretly passed letters full knowing there are only three ways out of the nightmare in which they are held captive."You can die....You can escape....Or you can convince them you are sane enough to leave."This dark and sometimes disturbing love story has well-drawn protagonists in John and Ella Fay and their dangerously disturbed 'so called' doctor, Charles (who has delusions of grandeur with a future in eugenics), but you will also find strong secondary characters in Clem and the entertaining sailor man, Dan.Besides the creepy atmosphere of the place, the horror of stacked bodies in unmarked graves and fear of the chronic ward, there is this constant underlying feeling something bad is going to happen.......Great read! Thought provoking, full of emotion and a frightening look at the eugenics movement, but I wanted a just little more from the ending.(Interesting personal historical note from the author)

  • Liz
    2019-06-04 23:10

    Anna Hope does a wonderful job of capturing the despair of life in an insane asylum in 1911. Ella is committed after breaking a window at the mill where she has worked since she was 8. She's not insane so much as despondent and who wouldn't be?The story is told from her point of view, as well as Charles, the assistant medical doctor in charge of the asylum’s music program and John, a male inmate. The contrast between the three works well. Sharston Asylum is home to “the feeble minded and chronic paupers”. Charles is a firm believer in Eugenics, the idea that science should help advance a superior version of the human race. At the heart of it is the idea that the feeble minded should not be allowed to breed. Charles initially struggles with whether sterilization is the proper choice before becoming an enthusiastic supporter. Hope does a great job of bringing to light a segment of history unknown to most. Especially interesting was Winston Churchill’s involvement in the movement. Am I the only one to see parallels with today’s talks about the rights of the less fortunate, such as those on welfare? A very well written book that will have you putting aside everything else in your life in order to finish it. I highly recommend it. The book is made even more poignant when you realize Hope’s grandfather was committed to a real life asylum called the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 1909 for “melancholia” and died there nine years later. My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  • Bam
    2019-06-06 03:59

    *4.5 stars! In the late winter of 1911, a young woman named Ella Fay is dragged, kicking and screaming, into Sharston Asylum in the Yorkshire moors--a place for lunatics and paupers, she has always been told. What has she done to deserve to be taken there? She'd just broken a window in a fit of pique at work in the mill, after all! And all she can think about as she looks around her new surroundings is finding a way to escape. But soon she does come to realize that if she wants to be released, she has to calm down and follow the rules. She makes a friend in Clemency Church, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, who has been institutionalized for attempting suicide and suffers from 'hysteria.' Clem's one joy is reading and always has her nose in a book but what will happen if her doctor decides to take that privilege away because excessive reading has been shown to be dangerous for the female mind?The sexes are kept segregated in the asylum but once a week those who have been 'judged' well behaved are allowed to mingle in the exquisitely beautiful ballroom where a group of doctors and assistants play dance music. There, Ella meets John, an Irishman who has been admitted for melancholia. Their illicit friendship grows through letters they find secret ways to pass. Overseeing them all is a young doctor named Charles Fuller who is quite interested in the eugenics movement that is popular among certain scientists of that era--especially the idea of the sterilization of the 'feeble-minded' to prevent their breeding. He most desperately wants to build his reputation in scientific circles and what a perfect place for experimentation!The story is told from three points of view--that of Ella, John and Charles--and is so well done that the reader is totally immersed in their desperate lives going on behind the walls of that heartless institution. The tension grows as the reader wonders what will happen to these star-crossed lovers and their friends if the misguided doctor has his way? Will they ever escape? Once I really got into the story, I couldn't put the book down. I truly came to care for these people and felt their desperation. And I knew I was reading a great book when I felt such a sense of dread, when I found myself empathizing with the patients who were institutionalized against their will and were totally at the mercy of the asylum staff--whether they could attend a dance, read a book, take a walk in the sunshine or date was totally out of their own control. Very frightening!Interestingly, the author's afterword notes that her own great-great-grandfather, an Irishman, was a patient at the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in Yorkshire from 1909 till he died in 1918. He was transferred to the asylum from the workhouse when he was thought to be suffering from depression. One often wonders from where inspiration springs for a story like this and can appreciate the personal connection. Highly recommend to those who love a good love story, especially those who enjoy historical fiction. Many thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an arc of this wonderful book. #2106-aty-reading-challenge-week-34: a book about mental illness

  • Emily May
    2019-05-20 21:55

    It was dark, she was alone, but her blood was beating; she was alive. She would study it, this place, this asylum. She would hide inside herself. She would seem to be good. And then she would escape.This was awesome. I have no idea how I found this book or ended up reading it - I haven't read the author's work before and I have literally heard nothing about this book or read any reviews, professional or otherwise. I guess it was something about the setting that did it. An asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire moors in 1911 was just too good to pass up.I suppose I should warn you non-romantics that there is a love story going on, but I never for one second felt like it took over the novel. For me, this was a dark, scary tale of events horrifyingly close to historical truth. Torn between horror and fascination as I learned how easy it was to be sent to an asylum (and the chilling laws proposed regarding "lunatics"), I could not turn the pages fast enough.John lifted his shovel to the hard winter earth. And he thought of where he was. And how long he had been there. And what was simple broke apart and became a shattered, sharded thing.The story follows three third-person perspectives, each as interesting as the last. John is an Irishman with a past cloaked in mystery; only time will tell why he was locked up in the asylum. Ella was dragged away from the workhouse after displaying "hysteria" and stands as an example of how easy it was to be labelled insane in 1911, especially as a working class woman. And then there's Charles - a doctor and eugenics enthusiast, and the most surprising character in this book.The author writes some gorgeous descriptions of the setting - from the isolated, eerie Yorkshire moors to the streets of London, to the asylum itself. And at the centre of this dark, miserable asylum, there is an old ballroom where the inmates are awarded for good behaviour once every week, and allowed to come together and dance.A strange sound started up, a low drumming. At first, she couldn’t light on what it was, until it grew faster, and louder, and she understood: it was the men, beating with their boots on the floor. Something stirred in the pit of her stomach. It was wild in here. Dangerous. Anything might occur.There is so much to praise about this book. The truth about the eugenics movement is unsettling, even more so because it really wasn't that long ago in human history. In fact, it was only really the Nazi crimes that served as a wake-up call and halted the eugenics movements in the United States and Europe. Prior to this, many prominent politicians (including such as Winston Churchill) called for compulsory labour camps for the "mentally defective" and/or forced sterilization. It was a widely-accepted notion that a better race of humans could be bred by following Darwinian theory. God, people are stupid.All of this makes Charles an incredibly important and interesting character who grows in complexity, offering a very different kind of experience to that had by John and Ella in this book.There are also some fantastic secondary characters, particularly Clem. She offers some much-needed female friendship to Ella and the two cling to each other inside the asylum, being a way to keep the other sane.Just a really great and interesting book, featuring love, friendship, history, sanity, insanity and the many insane notions of the supposedly sane majority. I enjoyed it a lot.She stared at the book in her hands. ‘When I go to university,’ she said, ‘if I write an essay about it, then I’ll talk about the ending. How I want it to be different. But how it’s still the right ending after all.’Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store

  • Dem
    2019-06-12 02:16

    Beautifully written, thought provoking novel set in an Asylum.The Ballroom is a tale of unlikely love set in an Asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors in 1911.Male and Female patients were segregated and the only time they came together was on Friday nights for the weekly dance.Churchill as a newly appointed home Secretary in 1908 was eager to solve the social problem of the "Feeble Minded" and he had ambitions for compulsory sterilisation. While his ambitions failed The Mental Deficiency Act established powers to incarcerate those believed to be "feeble-minded" in purpose built asylums where men and women were segregated, this ensured their inability to reproduce without the need for medical interventions.I had previously read and loved Wakeby this author and purchased The Ballroom in Hardback for my bookshelf.While I really enjoyed this novel it is a slow burner and did take a good few chapters for me to get into the story but Anna Hope's rich narrative and thought provoking plot kept me turning the pages and I just loved the novel and was so glad I struck with it.I adored the characters of Ella and John as they are so beautifully written. The plot is atmospheric and the setting of the Yorkshire Moors is vivid and stark. I hated parting company with this novel but I feel the setting, the writing and the characters will stay with me for a long time.

  • Phrynne
    2019-06-02 22:50

    I have been looking forward to reading this for some time as so many people whose opinions I value have given it such good reviews. And I was not disappointed - in fact I loved it!Of course the setting helped a lot. I have lived in Leeds, worked in Bradford and have even been to Menston where the asylum is. I never knew Yorkshire to have a summer such as the one described in this book but the author's descriptions are just beautiful.The main characters in the book are all fascinating especially Charles Fuller who was actually frightening in his arrogance and delusion. I thought he was more in need of being committed than his patients were! The scene in the operating theatre was very hard to take and the results of it were very gratifying!I loved it all right down to the epilogue which was happy/sad and very real. Thanks everyone who said this is a good book - you were right and I am so glad I read it.

  • Britany
    2019-06-18 04:14

    Let me start by saying I love books about mental illness and asylums- I'm fascinated by them, especially the ones that are super old and creepy. I was immediately drawn into this story inspired by a real hospital in Menston, England. The author saw the ballroom and was immediately captured by it to create a fictionalized story of characters living and exploring the asylum in the early 1900's. Three different characters narrate the chapters: Ella Fay- born to be free, sent because she broke a window at her place of work. Dr. Charles Fuller- creepy fellow, wispy, and idealistic. He discovers the alluring idea of Eugenics and finally my favorite- John Mulligan. John's the strong, silent type. We never really discover what brought him to Sharston. Each Friday, the patients are allowed to go to the Ballroom for a dance, complete with musicians and classical music. The contrasting imagery captured my heart and then broke it. I became attached to the periphery characters, especially Clem, and found myself completely wrapped up in the writing and the slow development of the story. I kept reading because I had to find out exactly what would become of these characters. I teared up at the ending, as I turned each page desperate for redemption for these souls, and was satisfied with the ending.Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  • JanB
    2019-05-28 23:02

    Group read with the Traveling to come!Here's the link to the "group review":https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....I'd give the book a 4.5 star ratingThis was my first group read with these ladies and I have to say the experience was wonderful. I appreciated everyone's viewpoint and the discussions were great! Thanks to the "sisters" for the invitation to join in on the read!And what an emotional read it was. The year is 1911, the setting a mental hospital in the Yorkshire moors. One night a week selected patients are allowed to go to the ballroom where they listen to music and dance. It’s the only bright spot in a miserable existence, especially when you consider many of the patients are there for what we now know to be ridiculous reasons. People were locked up for no other reason other than being “feeble-minded and paupers”, or in the case of women, “hysteria”. Reading was thought to be especially dangerous for women. By that criteria we would all be locked up, right?The story is told from three points of view: Ella and John, who were both patients, and Charles Fuller, the doctor at the facility. Of the secondary characters, Clem stole my heart. The fact that her nose was always buried in a book endeared me to her even more. She could have been any one of us. The Eugenics movement, a popular belief of the times even among notable people like Winston Churchill, plays a prominent role. The so-called sane people certainly had some insane ideas!The prose is beautiful with wonderfully descriptive language. The author does a great job capturing the setting and atmosphere – I could picture it all in my mind’s eye. Her characters were all well-developed. Reading about their lives and the cruelty they endured made my heart heavy but there were some bright moments: a sweet romance, friendships, and of course the music and dancing.I loved all three POV, they all seemed authentic to me and I enjoyed each section. Usually in multiple POV books I like one more than the others, but in this book I was always happy to read each character's chapters.Charles, the physician, could have been written as a one-dimensional evil villain, but instead the author wisely chose to write him as a complex, nuanced character, giving the story much of it’s interest and tension. In the epilogue, the reader discovers that the book is based on the author’s great-great-grandfather who was institutionalized in a mental hospital for depression, and died there nine years later. The author listed a link to a website for pictures and further information. This made me appreciate the book even more. I do love a book that sends me to the internet for more information.

  • Cathrine ☯️
    2019-06-17 21:49

    The Ballroom4.5★Told in beautiful spare prose, this is the story of John and Ella, who are about to discover why the caged bird can still sing. Men and women inmates are kept rigidly separated at Sharston Asylum except for two hours each Friday evening when some of them are allowed to mingle via dance therapy in the grand ballroom orchestrated by the very disturbed Dr. Fuller. As he ponders protocols for patient care while reading publications titled The Sterilization of Degenerates, he believes he may have discovered possible cures that may also bring him the personal recognition he so desperately craves. This may not be the most horrific treatment under consideration, but many of us on this site will no doubt understand its threat to personal sanity. “One thing strikes me immediately—chief among the many qualities the young woman possesses is her love of reading. She is allowed a book at all times. Her father even left her a pile of them when he came for his last disastrous visit. Presumably this is a regular event. Unlike music, excessive reading has been shown to be dangerous for the female mind. It was taught in our earliest lectures. The male cell is essentially catabolic: active and energetic; and female cells are unabolic: there to conserve energy and support life. While a little light reading is fine, breakdown follows when woman goes against her nature. Perhaps it would serve Miss Church to have a break from her books?”Great storytelling with a perfect blend of tension, restraint, horror, credibility, and bittersweet poignancy.Extras:The best stories lead us to others. I was curious to learn more about the building upon which the author modeled her Sharston Asylum. No expense seemed to be spared in its construction and exquisite attention to detail. It was opened in 1888. The author’s great-great-grandfather was a patient and died there in 1918. This book is dedicated to his memory.High Royds Asylum

  • Wendy
    2019-06-13 03:16

    The Ballroom, by Anna Hope, is a story inspired by the author's great-grandfather and a real-life asylum.An extremely compelling novel about mental illness and how it was dealt with in the early 1900's.Told from three different perspectives Ella Fay, a young factory worker, John Mulligan, a despondent Irishman and their doctor Charles Fuller find their lives connected and put under intensifying anxiety as the line between sanity and insanity increasingly becomes more disconcerted. A love story evolves when the men and women come together once a week, for a dance, in the Ballroom. Ella and John meet, grow close and dream of escape.The treatment of mental patients is focused on and shows great empathy for all who have suffered in the past from lack of compassion and knowledge.Superb writing style and a poignant, captivating story!Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for an arc of this novel.

  • Terri
    2019-06-05 00:48

    Talented British actress and author, Anna Hope has written a powerful novel of the patients and staff residing in a asylum in the Yorkshire moors. The year is 1911 and there is great unrest in Edwardian Britain, as labor strikes cripple the country. If you were unlucky enough to be deemed "mad" or "feeble-minded," you were sent to live as a patient at "Sharston" Asylum, where depending on your sex, you labored in the fields or the laundry. The author's great-great-grandfather was a patient in the Menson Asylum, where he died. Ms. Hope, who was obviously troubled and inspired, decided to take her family research and based her outstanding novel on some of his experiences. Like her g.g. grandfather, the lead character is John Mulligan, an Irishman, who was suffering from profound depression. He meets and courts another patient, Ella Fay, who is suffering from trauma and anxiety.The research is wonderfully done and the author also writes about the history of eugenics, including the true fact that Home Secretary Winston Churchill was a supporter. This was the most fascinating and shocking part of the book. I gave the book five stars. Highly recommend.

  • Jules
    2019-05-23 01:06

    The Ballroom is set in 1911 and tells the emotional story of a few characters and their lives inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors. The men and woman are kept apart, except for one night a week (if they’re lucky), when they all get together in the ballroom for a dance.I found this to be a sometimes dark, but overall touching story of love and human struggle. Most of the characters were very likeable, and I did find myself becoming emotionally involved with this story. Having only a few characters to focus on, made the story easy to follow, and allowed me to truly bond with those characters.It was very atmospheric and the whole time I was reading this book, I was very much within the walls of the asylum, experiencing the thoughts and emotions of the characters. This book left me with mixed feelings of sadness and hope.The epilogue is also interesting, and the Author’s Note is very touching too.I highly recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction with believable characters, and I look forward to reading more by this author in future.I would like to thank the publisher, Doubleday (Random House UK, Transworld Publishers) for allowing me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Vanessa
    2019-05-20 03:08

    Who would know the things inside her if she stayed in this place? She had no one to speak for her here, no creature to echo her, nothing to say who she was or might have been."An original and fascinating read! The premise and setting of this novel - an asylum in the early 20th century - was unusual and different than what I typically read. The story is told from the point of view of three characters, Ella, John, and Charles/Dr. Fuller, and each character is fascinating in his/her own way. Clem, who is the fourth major character, was the most interesting to me, and I would have loved to read her story, as well. Anna Hope constructed a detailed, atmospheric work with The Ballroom, and though the setting and tone were depressing, I couldn't help but want to read more. My only complaint and what kept the book from being five stars for me is that I wish the main characters' backgrounds and lives before Sharston Asylum were more developed. I felt that I didn't know much about them, and I think I would have connected more and cared more about each of them if I knew more of their pasts. Nonetheless, I loved this and wish I knocked it off of my TBR sooner!I won a copy of the finished hardcover novel in a Goodreads giveaway - thank you Goodreads, Anna Hope, and Random House!