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The Madness

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Sixteen-year-old Marnie lives in the idyllic coastal village of Clevedon. Despite being crippled by a childhood exposure to polio, she seems set to follow in her mother's footsteps, and become a 'dipper', escorting fragile female bathers into the sea. Her life is simple and safe. But then she meets Noah. Charming, handsome, son-of-the-local-Lord, Noah. She quickly develops ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 6th 2014 by Hot Key Books
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  144 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Beth (bibliobeth)
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Alison Rattle’s debut novel was The Quietness which I absolutely loved so I was excited to read this, her second novel which I chose as my seventh book from June 2014 – Chrissi Cupboard Month. As well as the stunning cover art which took my breath away, the story inside is both beautiful and poignant. Set in early Victorian times, it follows the life of our main character, a sixteen year old girl called Marnie who was crippled from an early age by infection with the polio virus. Marnie is determ ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: guest-reviews
Review by Beth - 4.5/5

I didn’t have the pleasure of reading Allison Rattle’s The Quietness but fell head over heels in love with Marnie and her life in Clevedon. This book is sad, it’s sadder than sad and every inch of that sadness is beautifully created by Rattle’s choice of language.
I defy anyone not to love Marnie’s character. She seems younger than her sixteen years due to her lack of education and life on the beach with only her mum and her mum’s ‘friend’ for company. She lives with her dis
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have never read anything quite like this before. This story rippled my interest because it was such a unsual story. I must say The Madness is literally unputdownable. Alison Rattle fabulous descriptions of Marine's frock and Noah's silk white stockings were an added bonus of detail. Alison has painted such a convincing picture of the sea and the shabby little house that Marnie lives in to the very grand manor that Noah stays in. It shines bright and clear that Alison Rattle is a perfectionist ...more
Vanessa Wild
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting and sad tale about obsession set in Clevedon, a small seaside resort in Somerset. Marnie, a young local girl, meets Noah, the son of a prominent and prosperous business man, and finds herself feeling a dangerous attraction for him which leads to the madness of the title.

I found the Victorian setting and the historical information with regard to bathing huts and 'dippers' fascinating. A 'dipper' is someone who helps wealthy ladies submerge themselves in the sea mostly for health re
Jul 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
This author has yet to write a book with a happy ending.
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I think this is the part where I declare my undying love for Alison Rattle’s writing. I didn’t think she could top The Quietness, but she has. The Madness is a terrific piece of work. It’s an unusual story, but unusual in a good way. It stands out against other books in the genre. I loved how the narrative splits between Marnie and extracts from Noah’s diary. I thought this was really effective. I could just see what was going to happen to poor Marnie.

I fell in love with Marnie. She comes acros
Wendy Darling
Loved. A little slow in the middle, but otherwise so compelling and well-written. (view spoiler) ...more
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lively book and I really enjoyed it.

Marnie Gunn, 14, whose life has been impinged by her contraction of polio when she was 5 years old, is a growing teenager with hopes of one day becoming a 'dipper' just like her Ma. Ma and Marnie live with Ma's somewhat partner and boss Smoaker, who owns the business of the Bathing Machines in a scenic seaside village of Clevedon. Marnie doesn't know who her father was and Ma wasn't saying so that caused Marnie to have not only a lot of questions but an insec
Amaya B.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Rogers
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
‘If you look like a beggar, then you are the most beautiful beggar I have ever seen.’

Love leaves no limits, and that is especially true of The Madness. This novel surprised me, quickly changing from a teenage romance to a terrifying obsession and although I didn’t love this book, it certainly had me on the edge of my seat throughout.

Marnie has little to live for before she meets Noah. As a cripple, few people want to speak to her and most are scared of her after she witnesses the death of a vill
Alycia K
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Everyone else seemed to like this... But it just wasn't my thing. It has been in my bookshelf for years so I wanted to finally get it off my TBR! I don't like historical fiction, so that's one strike. I felt like if this was more of a thriller, it would have been saved for me. This was just average, and not really enjoyable, personally. Further, I recognise that it's historical (key word), but I *really* didn't appreciate that Marnie's disability was the reason that she was so extradited and ali ...more
Yvonne Smith
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary and unsettling; kept me awake long after I’d finished it. Can’t recommend enough.
Roz Camplin
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-hall-of-fame
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historical fiction fans
'Love Letters to the Dead' is an unflinching novel about grief, guilt and growing up, all told in the format of letters to those we have already lost. Ava Dellaira's debut novel has an idea I continue to feel envious of, with her writing filled with the brutality we come to accept in this world. Laurel's voice was full of anger and, full of her frustration. However, I still found myself feeling disappointed. It fell into the traps that its predecessors have found themselves stuck in before: tryi ...more
Diana Welsch
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This is the second book in a row (after Inland) that was about a young lady who kind of snaps and thinks she's a mermaid. That was not intentional. This one, however, had a very interesting historical setting.

Young Marnie lives in Clevedon, a small seaside village in England, and spends her days working for her mother's dipping business. "Dipping" is when a person gets dunked under the seawater for a few moments by a practitioner of this, with supposed health benefits. They do this with the help
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Somerset, 1868: Crippled by polio as a small child, Marnie lives with her ma and not her pa, Smoaker, in a seaside village famed for its sea cures. The sea is her life and she looks forward to being as well respected a dipper as her ma. However, shunned by the local children due to her limp, her life is a lonely one, until she meets Noah, who is staying at the mansion with his family. They are worlds apart but as he takes notice of her, Marnie starts to dream of a different life.

I live in a town
Aug 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this!
SJH (A Dream of Books)
This is the first book I've read by Alison Rattle and I found it a superb example of historical fiction which brilliantly conjures up a sense of the place and time of the story. It's set in the year 1868 in the seaside town of Clevedon. I love reading about the Victorian era and it was a nice change of pace from a lot of the more contemporary books I've read lately.

The main character Marnie has been crippled by polio and walks with the aid of a stick. She has been taught by her Ma to love the s
I have been excited about getting a copy of this for almost a year now and I am so glad to say it was totally worth the wait.

The Madness is a YA historical novel set in a Victorian seaside town and tells the story of Marnie, the daughter of the local dipper. A dipper is someone who helped well to do ladies dip in the sea as it was thought at the time to be beneficial to their health. Marnie assists with this day to day and it is because of her work she meets and falls completely in love with the
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
The year is 1868; Marnie is 14 years old and partially crippled by Polio. However, she loves the sea and it is in her blood. Living in Clevedon, a small seaside village where the rich and privileged flock to take the ‘sea-cure’, Marnie helps her mother who is a dipper – someone who helps the rich into the sea in the horse drawn bathing huts. Marnie is ridiculed by the villagers who see her disability as something more sinister than just being an unfortunate consequence of a terrible disease. Alt ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
‘The Madness’ is the first Alison Rattle novel I have read, and I would definitely read more of her work based on this. Her great strength is that she gets the balance of research exactly right: the novel, set in the Victorian Period, is very atmospheric and clearly well-researched, yet at the same time, it is not so bogged down in historical detail that it becomes at all dull. It is very clear when reading the novel that Alison Rattle has a passion for history, and I particularly enjoyed the fa ...more
Lavender  Sparrow
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It is very easy to get into and hard to put down.

It follows the story of Marnie the local dippers daughter. She has a twisted leg form a case of polio when she was five which leads to cruelty from the local villages. Marnie finds comfort and a sense of belonging when she is in the sea, her wild and free spirit catches the eye of the local Lords son Noah whilst he is visiting from London. For him they have fun together whilst he is bored away from the thrills of
Jo Sowerby
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I began this book knowing where it was set and a little of what it would be about however I wasn't prepared for quite how much this book would affect me emotionally.
We are taken by Alison to Clevedon, in those days a seaside village, and we meet the spirited Marnie. A young girl who is taunted by her fellow villagers because she has a leg damaged by polio. She dreams of meeting her father whom she dreams of and escaping the world she lives in. She helps her mother by dipping the rich ill who com
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was ok

I chose this book partly because I thought it sounded interesting, but also because the cover is beautiful! However I was disappointed, although I did enjoy the historical context of the story, I found the main character Marnie selfish and unlikable.

Clearly she has a tough life, and she is cruelly betrayed, but she seems to show no sympathy towards any of the other characters. Seriously, she feels absolutely no guilt or sorrow at all about a death which she could easily have prevente
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very good, I really liked it. However, two things bothered me: First, Noah acted like he was totally in love with Marnie and yet suddenly couldn't care less about her, which I found a little hard to believe. Although I guess it is possible. Most of all though, I was really annoyed with the sudden change of perception.. why go from third-person to first-person out of the blue? I really didn't see the point, and I liked it better in third-person, I felt it "fit" better with the story. I guess it w ...more
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, romance
I believe a book is well-written if it fulfills what it intents to do. The Madness acheieved just that.

I felt Marnie's spiral into obssession, I felt the tension, I felt the increasing hoplessness of her situation.
And I hated it. I hated how sad it became. I hated how (view spoiler)
And most of all I hated (view spoiler)

The thing is, the book wanted me to feel those emotions in the first place. I wanted to make me
Emma Carroll
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was such a beautiful read I didn't want it to end. The era is evoked brilliantly; life's hardships and pleasures are captured through the eyes of Marnie, a teenage girl with more than her fair share of troubles. Her character is complex, sometimes sympathetic, sometimes objectionable, but always very real. It's hard to believe this is only Alison Rattle's second novel. The writing is so accomplished. Definitely one of my favorite books of 2014. ...more
'The Madness' by Alison Rattle is one of the most phenomenal pieces of historical fiction that I have read. Situated in 1868 in Clevedon( a charming seaside town in England), Marnie Gunn is an outcast in her village,
however she has been swimming in the azure blue sea ever since she was born and the sea helps her to think beyond her disability.'The Madness' is about Marnie's journey towards thinking beyond physical disabilities and learning to live her life to the fullest.
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Alison Rattle grew up in Liverpool, and now lives in a medieval house in Somerset with her three teenage children, her partner - a carpenter - an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat. She has co-authored a number of non-fiction titles on subjects as diverse as growing old, mad monarchs, how to boil a flamingo, the history of America and the biography of a nineteenth-century baby killer. ...more

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