Blog Tour - Review: The Ballroom by Anna Hope

Title - The Ballroom
Author - Anna Hope
Publication Date - February 11th 2016
Publisher - Transworld
Format - Kindle Edition
Pages - 352
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
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 tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be hosting my stop on the blog tour for Anna Hope's beautiful new novel The Ballroom. This is the first book I have had the pleasure of reading by Anna Hope, although I've heard incredible things about Wake which came out last year. With such a beautifully poetic, memorable and haunting writing style, and set in a tragic place such as the asylum where Ella and John's story begins, this book truly got beneath my skin.

Set in 1911, in an asylum upon the Yorkshire Moors, Anna Hope delivers three main narratives to the reader which continue to alternation throughout the progression of this novel. We're introduced to Ella, John and Charles. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these characters, and Anna's knack at unravelling the layers of her characters really was second to none. Both Ella and John intrigued me and I couldn't wait to see where Anna would take them before the story reached it's end. I was excited almost, by the thought of something romantic blossoming in such a dark, miserable place. Such mighty contrasts against each other, which only helped to make the themes within this story all the more striking. Charles was a character who it took a while for me to understand and get to grips with, although much later on into the novel, I began to realise that all was certainly not as it seemed. Double-faced and double-sized, monsters lurked in the shadows threatening to take over at any given moment. Pushed on by the urge and desperation for recognition, Charles (Dr Fuller) became a character who took me completely by surprise. As for Ella and John, I adored these two. Each Friday, when the ballroom was set up to host a dance for both male and female inmates, they came together and a sort of magic was weaved around them. In a place filled with the haunting sounds of moans and scratching and nightmares, Ella and John's story was like a flare of hope shooting up into the sky. Beautiful, moving, and completely unlikely, but I think that's why I adored it so much.

The setting of The Ballroom was amazing. I think it's the first time I've read a novel set in an asylum, and gosh, does it add an atmosphere! Anna Hope's descriptions of the setting were spot-on, striking and shocking. But within this, there was also a softness and tenderness too. The other people who Ella found herself surrounded by, including Clem who I loved meeting with her nose stuck in a book, were all patients who had been placed inside the asylum for reasons unknown. I wasn't convinced that all of them deserved to have been placed within the place, but that only went to show how unbalanced power was all of those years ago.

Atmospheric and full of hope, this really was a beautiful novel by Anna Hope. Splendid characters in a not-so-splendid setting. Anna Hope has crafted a stunning story here, and I truly can't wait to dive into Wake as soon as I am able to, to read more from this author. 

Becca's Books is awarding The Ballroom by Anna Hope with four gorgeous stars. Truly evocative, moving and striking novel. Definitely one of a kind. Special thanks to Becky Hunter for providing me with a copy of The Ballroom by Anna Hope in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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