REVIEW: The Mad Women’s Ball

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Sometimes, you read a book that really, really sticks with you for an age afterwards. The Mad Women’s Ball was one such book for me. Although a short novel, it packed a serious punch and I’ve been desperately recommending it to people for a while now. It’s also a book that you’ll read quickly, as the pacing is great and you won’t feel like you can put it down!

What’s it about?

Well, like the title suggests, it’s about a ball. However, this ball is held in the infamous women’s asylum in Paris. Every year the women within the hospital play host to the wealthy and privileged of the city. Although really, it is not about that at all.

It’s actually the story of the women who are preparing for the ball. As they pick their costumes and design their decorations, a new patient joins them. Eugenie is young, intelligent and claims she can contact the dead. Her arrival destabilises the hospital and leads to some people questioning the status quo.

What follows is an engaging and unsettling exploration of the historic treatment of women. The novel is so well researched that you are completely swept up in the lives of the women and desperately hoping that the world manages to show them a bit of kindness. You can  sense the passion that Victoria Mas has poured into this novel and it really does wonders at bringing to life the very human stories that have been neglected at the fringes of history for far too long.

Some parts of this novel were exceptionally uncomfortable to read but I think Mas did a wonderful job at handling these terrible events without being too graphic. Everything always came back to the women and impact it had on them in a way that broke and reformed my heart more times than I can count. I loved pretty much every one of the patients and nurses in this book and was rooting for them from the first page until the last. I can’t speak quite so highly about the doctors that the women encounter but I can’t rant about them without giving away spoilers…

Since reading this book, I honestly can’t stop talking about it. I was speaking about it with some co-workers recently and we were all utterly captivated by it. This is a book that generates plenty of thought and discussion, which is something that I love to encounter.

I’ve also just discovered that there is a film adaptation of this which I think I will need to check out too!

Overall,  I highly recommend The Mad Women’s Ball and will be throwing my copy at my friends for a while to come…

Kelly x

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