Misc. Historical Fiction.

The Ballroom by Anna Hope.

“Do you know me?” she said, lifting her face to his. “Do you know who I am?”
“Aye,” he said softly. “I believe I do,” 

This is another instance of reading a book just because the premise sounded interesting. Quite dicey, yes, but its a great way of discovering new authors and new genres.

In this instance, I played it quite safe in regards to genre. This book deals with the prewar obsession with curing society of the mentally unfit and the tentative steps taken towards forced sterilization. The book is presented through the perspectives of three central characters and this works well.

While at their core the narratives are quite simplistic Hope seems to love lavishly describing the environs of her characters. Not just the characters, but what they can feel and taste and touch. This makes the book an entirely visceral experience and the day-to-day existences of the inmates of the asylum is achingly detailed. The plot goes through so many twists and turns. In a very narrow world where intelligence is supressed, (and a wide spectrum of suppression occurs) the narrative explores the daring avenues of insanity and the tenuous blurring between sanity and insanity. Or is there even a difference between the two?

My reasons for giving this book quite a low score are thus described – the tension was built up adequately throughout the book’s entirety but the sudden jump ahead was quite jarring. It was ultimately a happy ending and quite sad although I didn’t cry. These sorts of books don’t have much reread value which is a pity. That being said, it is also quite a quick read too so one to choose if you don’t want to get lost in the maze of a more longer, complex book. I wouldn’t read this book again but through my own personal preferences and not through any distaste of it.

MY RATING: *** / *****

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