From the bestselling author of EXPECTATION...
'Absolutely fantastic... I'm in real awe of her writing' ELIZABETH MACNEAL, author of The Doll Factory
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 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 historical love story. It tells a page-turning tale of dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.
'Compelling, elegant and insightful' Observer
'Beautifully wrought, tender, heartbreaking' Sunday Express 5/5
'Moving, fascinating' Times
'A tender and absorbing love story' Daily Mail
'Unsentimental and affecting' Sunday Times
'Exquisitely good' Metro
'Absolutely heart-breaking. One of the best books I’ve ever read' DINAH JEFFERIES, author of The Tea-Planter's Wife
Patients in an asylum in 1911 find hope and redemption amid the bleakest circumstances in Hope's heartbreaking second novel (following Wake). After a violent confrontation at the mill where she works, Ella Fay finds herself confined in the Sharston Asylum, a bleak institution on the edge of the Yorkshire moors where female patients are confined indoors, subjected to hard labor, and bullied by belligerent nurses. The one bright spot in the patients' week is the weekly dance thrown in the asylum's ballroom. Presided over by attending physician (and amateur musician) Charles Fulller, the dances are the one opportunity male and female patients have to interact. It's here that Ella meets John Mulligan, an Irishman confined to the hospital for melancholia after the death of his wife and child. The two strike up a passionate affair, facilitated by the clandestine exchange of letters. Such a romance runs counter to Dr. Fuller's philosophies on the treatment and welfare of his charges, which, to the modern reader, range from confusing ("excessive reading is dangerous for the female mind") to outright backward (forced sterilization). And as Dr. Fuller's own grip on reality begins to loosen, Ella and John's chances for a happy life together or apart begin slipping away. Though the subject matter is occasionally difficult, a compelling cast of emotionally resonant characters, as well as a bittersweet climax, render Hope's second novel a powerful, memorable experience.