The Ballroom

The Ballroom

A Novel

eBook - 2016
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A searing novel of forbidden love on the Yorkshire moors-"a British version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (The Times U.K.)-from the author of the critically acclaimed debut Wake England, 1911. At Sharston Asylum, men and women are separated by thick walls and barred windows. But on Friday nights, they are allowed to mingle in the asylum's magnificent ballroom. From its balconies and vaulted ceilings to its stained glass, the ballroom is a sanctuary. Onstage, the orchestra plays Strauss and Debussy while the patients twirl across the gleaming dance floor. Amid this heady ambience, John Mulligan and Ella Fay first meet. John is a sure-footed dancer with a clouded, secretive face; Ella is as skittish as a colt, with her knobby knees and flushed cheeks. Despite their grim circumstances, the unlikely pair strikes up a tenuous courtship. During the week, he writes letters smuggled to her in secret, unaware that Ella cannot read. She enlists a friend to read them aloud and gains resolve from the force of John's words, each sentence a stirring incantation. And, of course, there's always the promise of the ballroom. Then one of them receives an unexpected opportunity to leave Sharston for good. As Anna Hope's powerful, bittersweet novel unfolds, John and Ella face an agonizing dilemma: whether to cling to familiar comforts or to confront a new world-living apart, yet forever changed. Praise for The Ballroom"The Ballroom successfully blends historical research with emotional intelligence to explore the tensions and trials of the human condition with grace and insight."-New York Times Book Review"Part historical novel and part romance, The Ballroom paints an incredibly rich portrait of the mentally stable forced to live in an asylum. [Anna] Hope transports readers inside the asylum, to feel the thick humidity of the stale summer air of the day room, and the gritty and brutal reality inside those walls."-Booklist "A compelling cast of emotionally resonant characters, as well as a bittersweet climax, render Hope's second novel a powerful, memorable experience."-Publishers Weekly"Hope's writing is consistently beautiful. . . . Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction by Sarah Waters or Emma Donoghue."-Library Journal "A beautifully wrought novel, a tender, heartbreaking and insightful exploration of the longings that survive in the most inhospitable environments."-Sunday Express "The Ballroom has all the intensity and lyricism of [Anna] Hope's debut, Wake. At its heart is a tender and absorbing love story."-Daily Mail "Compelling and masterful . . . Anna Hope has proven once again that she is a luminary in historical fiction. . . . She delivers profound, poignant narratives that stir the emotions."-Yorkshire Post "As with Hope's highly acclaimed debut novel, Wake, the writing is elegant and insightful; she writes beautifully about human emotion, landscape and weather."-The Observer "A brilliantly moving meditation on what it means to be 'insane' in a cruel world . . . All the characters are vividly and sensitively drawn. . . . Deeply moving."-The Irish TimesFrom the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: 2016.
ISBN: 9780812995169
Branch Call Number: eBook Overdrive
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Aug 04, 2017

I kept waiting for something more to happen. Ok so what they were in an asylum. I didn't like the Charles character. He is too rigid but I felt like this book could have developed all of the characters a bit better not just Charles. I would have liked a nicer reunion or something for Ella and John but it was nice to see the end play out too. There were a few "ballroom" scenes but they were "so what" - i imagined them to be a bit more descriptive. I was bored throughout most of the book and pretty much forced myself to finish it. I should have heeded the reviews before i borrowed this snooze fest out. Skip it if you can.

lcraigjones Jul 06, 2017

I loved this book. It was tragic at times and characters seemed doomed to a life trapped in the ward. Yet, within this historical fiction piece is a love story that is hopeful and humble. The history of institutions such as this are eye opening and dreadful. Through all this, you grow so attached to the characters who fight for their lives, their right to love, their right to freedom, their right to humanity--all of which has been erroneously stolen from them in the name of "recovery" and "treatment." The way in which the patients were treated ignites in the reader a longing to understand difference and treat it with compassion. Through tales such as these, I believe we are inspired to fight against ignorance and fight against the denial of the human right to love and live.

Check out the real history of the asylum that the book's asylum was based off of. It's fascinating and the pictures are quite eerie. Google: High Royd Hospital. They have their own website as well!

SquamishLibraryStaff Feb 22, 2017

Historical fiction at its best - at times both charming, and alarming. An unusual story, set in an asylum on the Yorkshire moors in Northern England, it includes an element of romance, but by no means an overly sentimental one. Intriguing and unpredictable characters, with equally unpredictable outcomes.

Jul 27, 2016

I was very excited when I received the email from Netgalley that I was approved by Random House Publishing Group to read and review the U.S. ARC of Anna Hope's The Ballroom: A Novel which is set to be released in the United States on September 6, 2016.

The story is told in 3 alternating third-person perspectives about main characters Ella, a female patient, John, a male patient, and Dr. Charles Fuller who works at the asylum.

In the beginning I really liked this book. The author did great describing the setting- a 1920s asylum. I had the disheartening, sad, and eerie feeling normally associated with asylums. I looked forward to the romantic, mysterious, and historical elements set forth by the premise I read. I was drawn to the fact it took place in an asylum, an out-of-the-norm setting.

The problem was getting attached to the characters. At first, I liked John and Ella, but daily life and interactions between the two seemed repetitive, which made the first half really boring. Ultimately I felt as if I was being told about their relationship instead of being guided through their actual feelings and emotions. It felt cold and distant and I just couldn't connect with the two characters any longer.

Of the three perspectives, Dr. Charles Fuller was the most interesting to me. I could feel the compassion and love for his job in the beginning of the story. As the novel progressed he got lost in his work and studies and I found it intriguing to see him going almost as mad as the patients in his care. His character had the greatest character development of them all.

Overall, the story as a whole was a bit mismatched as far as quality of writing and character progression. Perhaps if all characters were told with first person perspective instead of third person I would have had a deeper understanding of all the characters better.

I do commend author Anna Hope for being historically accurate with how mental healthcare worked in those days. It was interesting to read the medical procedures and about how patients were treated. Though no surprise to me, it was so disheartening to see that being poor, grieving the loss of a loved one, or simply having a normal outburst of emotion could label you as "crazy".

I give this book 3.5 stars. Mainly because the ending was amazing. I am glad Hope included an epilogue because I truly would have felt the story was unfinished and that I needed to know more had it not been included. The writing about the doctor and the asylum itself was brilliant. The other two main characters simply fell flat and made the majority of the novel boring.

Once again, thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for allowing me to read and review this eARC.


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