My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars
This book was a little different for me, in terms of it being an adult historical fiction rather than a young adult. That being said, I didn’t find the change of pace boring. While the plot was a little slow, I found it was still a very compelling read. If you are one for characterization and imagery, this is the book for you.
- Author: Anna Hope
- Genre: Adult historical fiction, romance
- Release Date: September 6, 2016
- Publisher: McClelland and Stewart
- Pages: Hardcover, 320 Pages
- Goodreads, avg. rating 4.05
- Pre-order on Amazon
- Anna’s site
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
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.
My Spoiler-free Review
Disclaimer: I received an early copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
To get the bad news out of the way, the book didn’t resolve nicely for me. The plot was going in a great direction, but the ending was a bit anticlimactic. All the loose ends were tied up, but I wasn’t quite satisfied for some reason. Perhaps I may be biased because this is a little off-genre for me, but the books I like tend to have some sort of climax that I can clearly identify, but this just didn’t cut it. I think it’s a shame because the rest of the book was a quick, interesting read for me.
This received some bad reviews on Goodreads because of the dark themes of the novel. Honestly, I couldn’t really see where they were coming from. There were a few disturbing aspects, but it was to be expected considering the asylum setting. I thought it added ambiance to the setting and plot, and it wasn’t really forefront in my mind while reading. Looking back, I see that these disturbing themes were basically personified in one of the antagonist-type characters: Charles Fuller, which means they were completely necessary (Also, I loved Fuller, even if he was a nutbag. He reminded me of Zachary Quinto in American Horror Story Asylum).
What I really loved were the characters and their relationships among each other, other than Ella Fay. She is one of the three POVs that we read from, but I found her to be a bit lacking in depth. Still, I enjoyed that she was somewhat clever. She really flourished when she was with another of the POVs, John Mulligan, her love interest. I loved their dynamic and how realistic their view was of each other considering their situation. The love was beautiful in this story, developing sweetly and at just the right pace.
The writing style was lovely: Hope is a master at imagery. She painted vivid pictures with a simple turn of phrase, and I felt like I was really in the story. It was interesting how I felt the dark anxiety of the asylum and the hope and light of the moors at the same time—she used concise, specific words that created the perfect mood.
Overall, this is a perfect novel for lovers of historical fiction, romance, or both. It was both compelling and unsettling, and pleasure to read. I ate it up in a few sittings. Thank you for reading!