I first heard about The Ballroom when it was reviewed in a magazine and I liked the sound of the premise, not to mention it was set in Yorkshire my home county. Finding out it was based on a real asylum also piqued my interest.
This book was one of the most well written novels I have ever read and I’ve read A LOT of books.
The premise: Ella Fay is fed up with her life of drudgery working in a Bradford mill and sharing a house with others so one day she makes a break for freedom viewed as an act of insanity. She is carted off to Sharston Asylum and adamant that she is not crazy all she can think about is escape. John Mulligan has been at Sharston a while and has given up hope of getting out, his days are filled with menial work and his hatred of the asylum’s employees. Charles is a young doctor fighting his feelings and hiding his secrets from everyone including himself. Immersed in his music and his ideas about Eugenics he is obsessed with becoming a ‘superior man’ and will allow nothing to get in his way.
I really liked the way the story was told from the different perspectives of the three characters. It was like watching the spider approach the flys who were happily playing in the web believing themselves unnoticed. Anna Hope has a skill not many writers can boast, the ability to write beautifully about scenery, to pen similes full of imagery and where this could usually become boring she weaves it together with an interesting and heart rendering story with cleverly created characters that keeps the reader involved and makes the story enjoyable.
I was interested as well to find the links at the end of the book with information and photographs of the asylum which gave the author the idea for the book, it was nice to get a real image of the place outside of the picture the author created in the readers mind.
I’ll definitely be reading more from Anna Hope.