By the acclaimed author of Wake: Where love is your only escape....
Nineteen-eleven: 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 and dance.
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.
©2016 Anna Hope (P)2016 Penguin Books Limited
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"brilliant summer read"
I enjoyed the book and found I could not put it down.
I especially enjoyed the authors explanation at the end of where she got the idea.
I could not pick one thing.....I enjoyed all the characters
"Moving and wonderful"
This is my first read by this author and I chose it as on Richard and Judy bookclub list. This was set during the heatwave of 1911 on the vast Yorkshire moor in a mental health asylum. Individuals were admitted with no recourse to leave and for minor indiscretions not related to their mental health.
The main characters are John a gentle man from Ireland with a past including death and abandonment. Ella in her desperation to see the sky from her factory workplace broke a window. Her punishment was admission to the asylum. Chem, an intellectual well read girl was admitted by her family as a private patient. Charles Fuller was the doctor working there. He played music in the ballroom for the patients.
This is a beautifully hauntingly story wonderfully scripted set against the backdrop of the rugged Yorkshire moors juxtaposed with the bleakness of the asylum.
The ballroom of the asylum was a lovely space where weekly dances were held with Dr Fuller providing the music. Dr Fuller insisted that John attended John met Ella and love happened between them. Apart from in the ballroom women and men never met as women stayed inside and men outside working.
To maintain contact John writes to Ella. Chem reads the letters and replies back as Ella is illiterate.
In the asylum we see the medical staff are totally powerful and make life and death choices for the inmates without consulting them.
Part of these decisions included horrendous ethical choices leaving life long effects to the receiver. It is even worse to know that this asylum existed and that the eugenic campaign of the time was all too real.
This book is about life and survival but at a huge cost. I was so moved by the beautiful ending which was poetic and so gripping.
The waste to these peoples lives as well as the joy their time together brought is ever present.
The narrative was lovely and aided the story and my listening to it.
I read this in its entirety over a long plane journey and it was such a joy to get absorbed in. I would highly recommend it.
"And here is the proof"
I have always held the opinion that the second world war would never have happened if Hitler had been less ambitious and the estermination of the Jews would have gone on unabated and even conconed by some parts of the free world. This book is the proof since it is set in 1911 just at the point when parliament was considering the feeble-minded act and wondering whether compulsory sterilization might halt the spread of the contagion of being feeble-minded thus creating in their minds at least a superior race. This had the support apparently of home secretary Churchill who was also responsible for the bombing of Coventry or at least letting it happen but that's another story entirely.
The book is essentially a tragic love story set against the backdrop of a lunatic asylum and against all odds. It starts in a ballroom and ends with the escape of John and the release of Ella. It's corny and full of steriotypes and in some places it's predictable. 'Said' is repeated too often but that's become the norm and it's not the worst example I've ever come across. I think though it is very unlilely that the illigitimate daughter of an insane mill worker in the early twentieth century would have received the kind of education that would have turned ehr in to a teacher therefore I cannot give it five stars.
I absolutely loved this book. An unusual love story set in an asylum back in 1911. The reader, Daniel Weyman, bought the characters to life and at points I was almost holding my breathe to listen.
I loved the story, it took you through so many emotions and now I have finished it I am really missing the characters
"insight to Eugenics "
Enjoyed the history behind the story and engaged with all characters even shouting out loud at some of the things the Dr did ! Well read too
I really enjoyed listening to The Ballroom. very emotional at times and engaging throughout. it does leave the reader to ponder on the ending for th3 characters.
"Now this is really good!"
Compelling, insightful, memorable
It is very atmospheric with strong characterisation. As I understand it, the maxim for writing a good story is.... 'show, rather than tell'. This did just that. Many years ago I had a work meeting at the place on which this is loosely based and I could visualise it so clearly. The ending is also robust and fitting. The day after I finished listening to this, I bought the book to give to a friend as a gift... it's that good.
No, this was the first, but I was very impressed. Great job, Daniel. Thank you.
I think something similar has been written elsewhere about it being the British version of One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
Thank you for this moving and educating novel. A well researched, precise piece of work that has touched me and enlightened me.
Beautifully written interesting story with likely the best narration of all the books I've heard. Recommend this book for anyone who fancies a little more class in their fiction. Superb, moving, vivid and eye opening.
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