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BALLROOM, THE de Hope Anna

BALLROOM, THE (edição: 2016)

de Hope Anna (Autor)

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2101598,612 (3.86)10
"1911: Inside an asylum on 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 John and Ella meet, it is a dance that will change two lives forever. Set during the heat wave in the summer of 1911 at the end of the Edwardian era, this is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and the delicate balance between the two"--… (mais)
Autores:Hope Anna (Autor)
Informação:BLACK SWAN (2016)
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

Detalhes da Obra

The Ballroom de Anna Hope

  1. 00
    The Regeneration Trilogy de Pat Barker (charl08)
    charl08: Novels explore institutional life before psychiatric drugs.

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Mostrando 1-5 de 15 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Set in 1911 in Sharston Asylum, West Yorkshire (based on the real-life Menston Asylum), this powerful, poignant story is told through three narrative voices. Ella, a young woman whose only “crime” had been to break a window at the mill where she worked in order to see the sky – an expression of her despair at the dreadful working conditions, as well as the abuse she experienced at home. John, an Irishman who, following the death of his young daughter and the breakdown of his marriage, had become depressed and was eventually admitted to the asylum. Charles, the asylum’s reluctant doctor, would rather be a musician but feels a need to prove himself to his father by achieving something important. Life in the asylum is harsh and the men and women are strictly segregated, except for two hours every Friday night when they are allowed to socialise in the beautiful ballroom, listen to music and dance. However, only some of the residents are chosen and they all know that any infraction of the rules will lead the withdrawal of the privilege. John feels an immediate attraction to Ella and writes her a letter but as she cannot read, her friend Clem, an avid reader, reads them to her and then writes a letter back for her. This exchange of letters forges an ever-closer relationship between the couple, offering them possibility of love and romance in the face of the loneliness and madness of their surroundings.
There were times when I found this a really difficult story to read because it so clearly evoked the horrors of what life was like for those deemed “unfit” for society in the early days of the twentieth century, a time when eugenics was gaining popularity as a means by which to “breed-out” the “dregs” of society – the violent, the feeble-minded, the addicts etc. I had known that Churchill had become convinced of the desirability of pursuing a programme of enforced sterilisation and had attempted to force through legislation to achieve this. However, it felt very uncomfortable to be reminded of how close this barbaric “solution” came to being enshrined in the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act, which legislated instead the need for enforced segregation, rather than sterilisation, to prevent reproduction.
Each of the characters felt convincing and I soon found myself caught up in the developing relationship between Ella and John, hoping for a good outcome for them but always fearing that the circumstances they found themselves in would stop them getting together. I loved that Ella found a friend in Clem, an emotionally fragile young woman, but an avid reader who found refuge in the books her affluent family kept her supplied with. What happened to her as the story progressed was one of the most disturbing aspects of this already deeply-disturbing story. However, the pivotal character in all their lives was Charles, a man who at first appeared, with his belief in the healing qualities of music, to care for the inmates. However, as his own troubled, repressed feelings begin to surface, his behaviour towards them becomes increasingly vengeful, sadistic and destructive.
The author used her great-great-grandfather experiences as an inmate at Menston Asylum to create a well-written but disturbing, haunting and unforgettable story. ( )
  linda.a. | Aug 4, 2019 |
The Ballroom by Anna Hope was inspired by an ancestor who had been admitted to an asylum in the early 1900s and eventually died there. She did research about an asylum in England on the edge of the Yorkshire moors and between those two things, she created this story. This is a beautifully written book with incredibly believable characters. The more historical fiction I read, the more I think that our history is nothing but dark, horrifying events, that hopefully we learn from. This novel touches on the topic of Eugenics and how many countries, England being one of them, pondered the legalities of forced sterilization of people having genetic defects or undesirable traits. It also deals with the many people who were institutionalized for various reasons that should not have been. The time is 1911 and the asylum was beautifully built, relatively self-sufficient and had an exquisite ballroom which was seldom used.

The story is told from the perspective of three characters. Ella Fay was a young woman who had been admitted after breaking a window in the factory she worked in. Working from morning to night, she just wanted to see the sun. She was admitted to Shaston for “hysteria”, a common one used for women, anything out of the ordinary that your husband/father or employer thought was inappropriate. John Mulligan was an Irish man who had suffered the loss of his family. He ended up in a workhouse, then Sharston asylum because there was no other place for the city to put him. He was labelled with various things, one being laziness or intemperance. He was a good worker and was used to dig mass graves, work in the fields etc. Charles Fuller was a doctor who started off as a character that I very much liked. He tried to use music to get the patients to feel better. He started dances where the males and females actually came together instead of the segregation they live in. He was getting positive results until a trip to London. This is where the Eugenics comes in. It is very scary to read about what the beliefs were at that time. John and Ella fall meet at the dances, communicate via notes and fall in love. One night they manage to sneak out and spend the time together. These characters are so well written that you feel that you know them, are there with them and going through the same things they are experiencing. The secondary characters are just as well written. You will read details about the atrocities and lack of kindness common in asylums. You meet patients and your heart breaks for them. The romance in the story is tender yet heartfelt and the ending was amazing. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, even with a little romance thrown in. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
This has been a difficult review in the sense that I, initially, couldn't pinpoint what it was that didn't feel right for me. Up to the middle, I knew I liked it enough to continue reading, my overall impression was positive, but it wasn't fulfilling my expectations.In a certain degree, I am still conflicted and divided over a few parts of the novel. And then, something happened and the book started coming to life.

I started The Ballroom by Anna Hope with enthusiasm. Stories that are set in asylums, dealing with mental illness have always fascinated me. There is something profound, humbling even, in diving right into the deepest recesses of the human brain and witness how much difference can a single stimulus make, however slight or unimportant it may seem. Moreover, novels that are set in asylums are full of characters that have no reason to be there, other than the prejudices and norms on which the societies of the past were built. Whoever dares to walk away from conformities is branded a ''lunatic'', deemed a danger to the ''good people''.

Here, we have an interesting premise. In the asylum of our story, in Yorkshire, there is a special hall called The Ballroom. The patients,men and women, who are well-behaved are rewarded when they are chosen to take part in the waltz-evenings, under the sound of Dr. Fuller's piano.The characters in focus are four. Ella, a young woman who broke a window in her workplace, John Mulligan from Ireland, who is harbouring family secrets, Clem, a young upper-class girl and Dr. Fuller who is the character that drived the story forward.

There is a great risk of spoilers with The Ballroom. What I can safely say is that I found the plot of eugenics really interesting,if terrifying. The particular notion isn't something new. A number of scientists serving their own distorted ideas of pure societies, some distinguished public figures of the time, and a handful of totalitarian states desired to bring it to action. There are voices - however weak - still supporting it today, which fills me with horror over the future of mankind, but this is a discussion for another time.

The characters are wel-drawn. Ella is sensible, sensitive and with tremendous resources of inner strength, as is John. He has the characteristics of a tragic figure, his sense of freedom being his driving force and in my opinion, he is the one the reader can immediately connect with. Clem was an unsympathetic, irritating character in my eyes. And Dr. Fuller? There's so much storm inside him, so much darkness and illusions, so many secrets. What starts as a force of good becomes the most evil presence in the narration. When his character comes into focus,though, the tides change and the novel finds its pace, becoming a whirlwind of events.

What I enjoyed was the fact that the love plot of The Ballroom was well-written and given in a poetic, but not melodramatic way. Did I find it realistic? No. I didn't even find it plausible, but sometimes we must part with our reservations and appeciate a story for it sheer beauty. The writing is balanced, if a little slow. It took me some time to connect with the characters and the heart of the narration. The dialogue is realistic, but at the same time, it retains a certain dream-like quality. I appreciated the fact that Anna Hope didn't spend time describing other patients' stories, it would be unecessary as the novel already has its share of darkness as it is.

So, I could actually rate The Ballroom with 3.5 stars in order to be absolutely honest. However, the way the story is developed and the structure of the characters cannot but carry you with them. I read the last page having feelings that were a mix of sadness and frustration rather than hope. But I know that most of the ''real'' life stories end in such a way, instead of a ''happily-ever- after''... ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
Well, I was not expecting that! From the cover - by which I realise you should never judge the book - I had this pegged as one of those wishy-washy historical novels set around the First World War, which it sort of is, but the local connection blew me away. From the first description of the asylum, which is the setting of the story, I thought, 'I know that building!' (Not personally, I hasten to add.) I work in an archives office in West Yorkshire, and instantly recognised High Royds, or the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, to give the former hospital a charming title. Also from Mark Davies' website, which I used to check that I was right - and yep, there are the black daisies in the entrance hall.

Anyway, location aside, the story is based - loosely - on the author's grandfather, an Irishman who was an inmate at High Royds. He died in his 50s, but his character in the book, John Mulligan, fights against his incarceration, and also the insidious attentions of rogue doctor Charles Fuller, who believes in eugenics and should probably be locked up instead of his patients. In fact, the doctor, and the sudden darkening of his personality and outlook, is the only character who didn't really work for me - he was fairly creepy to begin with, but then turned into a cackling caricature, hell bent on eradicating his patients to escape his own inner demons. John and Ella were sympathetic enough, however, and I wanted to read more about poor Clem.

A superbly atmospheric setting, local links, beautiful writing, well paced - most definitely recommended, even for readers who can't identify the asylum based on the pattern of the tiles! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jun 13, 2018 |
I really liked this one....much more than I expected to. Yes, it's historical fiction; yes, it's a love story...but it's so much more and it's also beautifully written. Ella Fay is sent to an asylum because she broke a window in the factory where she works. John Mulligan is another patient there who also seems to have little, if any, true mental illness. He is mourning the death of his infant daughter and subsequent break-up of his marriage. They meet at a weekly ballroom dance, where male and female patients are brought together as a form of music therapy, led by Dr. Charles Fuller. Dr. Fuller is pioneering this kind of therapy, but also intrigued by eugenics and struggling against his homosexuality.

So, this book explores the treatment of the mentally ill, a topic that continues to be of interest today even though the specifics of the debate has changed. It also looks at societal expectations in terms of behaviour. And it's a fascinating story of how two people meet and fall in love. ( )
  LynnB | Apr 28, 2018 |
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"1911: Inside an asylum on 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 John and Ella meet, it is a dance that will change two lives forever. Set during the heat wave in the summer of 1911 at the end of the Edwardian era, this is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and the delicate balance between the two"--

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