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 ...more
Love 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 th ...more
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, tha ...more
The Ballroom often feels lush in nature but is quite simple really. It's a tale of falling in love and of obsession centered during the time when an individual can be institutionalized against his/her will for almost any reason. Break a window = mentally ill. Grieving the loss of your child = mentally ill. You get the picture.
Like other reviewers (such as Angela M), I was reminded of the book What She Left Behi ...more
I started The Ballroom by Anna Hope with enthusiasm. Stories that are set in asylu ...more
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 impr ...more
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 c ...more
"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. ...more
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. T ...more
"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 cha ...more
She made a noise. Could have been yes. Could have been no, but the blanket was pulled off her head and she gasped for air.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Where love is your only escape ....
1911: 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 J ...more
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 aut ...more
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 ...more
This was an extremely good read! It was touching, heartbreaking, and absolutely unforgettable!
Highly recommen ...more
Beautiful prose, magnificent renderin ...more
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 H ...more
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 ...more
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'...more
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 ...more
But soon she does come to realize that if she wants to be released, s ...more
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 ...more
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 Ac ...more
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 ...more
Here's the link to the "group review":
I'd give the book a 4.5 star rating
This 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 moor ...more
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 ...more
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 e ...more
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 ...more
Anna's powerful first novel, WAKE, sold to Transworld Publishers in a seven-way auction. Set over the course of five days in 1920, WAKE weaves the stories of ...more
"All... this." Ella threw out her arm. "Does it not make you mad?"
Clem glanced up. 'Much madness is divinest sense,' She said, and gave a small laugh. "There are plenty of mad women in here. I'm not sure I'm one of them though." She shrugged. "You'll get used to it.”