Friday Favorite – The Ballroom by Anna Hope

Well here we are at the end of another working week for most of you, and the end of another month. I haven’t read as much as I would have liked, or planned this month, but that’s just life. So now it’s time to take a look at what I’m recommending if you’re looking for something to read over the weekend …

Looking for something to read over the weekend ?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming ‘read me’?

Take a look at my Friday Favorite. It may be new. It may be old. It may be written by a famous author, or by someone you have never heard of. But wherever in the spectrum it falls, it will be a book that is special to me, one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

The Ballroom by Anna Hope

EXCERPT: ‘Are you going to behave?’ The man’s voice echoed. ‘Are you going to behave?’

She made a noise. Could have been yes. Could have been no, but the blanket was pulled off her head and she gasped for air.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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.

MY THOUGHTS: This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The language is almost poetic, the descriptions draw you into the scenery, the characters are carefully and cleverly crafted.

The story is set in an lunatic asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire moors in 1911 and revolves around four central characters. An asylum should be a place of refuge, where the insane are cared for and protected. This is far from the truth. And it is far from true that everyone incarcerated within is insane.

Ella Fay worked in a mill where all the windows were painted over to prevent the workers from looking outside and wasting their employers time. Desperate to see the sky, to not be confined in this prison of noise and cloth that leeches the life out of her, Ella breaks a window and is then confined to Sharston Asylum until such time she can be declared sane and not a danger to herself or others.

Clemency has been incarcerated by her father and brother for refusing to marry a man who used to teach her. A man who was not kind to her, and who may already have abused her trust and that of her family. Clemency is a private patient – her family pay to keep her there – and she is able to wear her own clothes rather than the asylum uniform, and to have some of her own treasured belongings.

Charles Fuller is the son of an eminent surgeon, Charles destined to follow in his footsteps. But instead of studying for his exams, he is seduced by music and fails miserably. He takes the position of Second Assistant Medical Officer at Sharston (one of four), purely because he is also to have the role of bandmaster.

John Mulligan is a solitary type of man, and resident of one of the ‘chronic’ (long term) wards. He is a kind man, keeping some of his bread ration to feed the canary imprisoned in a cage in the day room, and trusted enough to be one of a work party charged with digging the unmarked graves, each holding six coffins piled one atop the other, and working on the farm that supplies meat and grains to the asylum.

The one point of beauty in Sharston is the Ballroom, vast and beautiful, where every Friday evening of every week selected patients (the ones who have ‘been good’) come together and dance. It is here that John and Ella meet for the second time and their fate is sealed.

The Ballroom quietly details the atrocities and lack of kindness common in asylums. This is an emotional and heart-wrenching read, one I will come back to time and again.

I award The Ballroom five very brilliant stars. 💖💖💖💖💖

THE AUTHOR: Anna Hope is an English writer and actress from Manchester. She is perhaps best known for her Doctor Who role of Novice Hame. She was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, and Birkbeck College, London.

Anna’s powerful first novel, WAKE, sold to Transworld Publishers in a seven-way auction. Set over the course of five days in 1920, WAKE weaves the stories of three women around the journey of the Unknown Soldier, from its excavation in Northern France to Armistice Day at Westminster Abbey. US rights were pre-empted by Susan Kamil at Random House. The book will be published in Doubleday hardback in early 2014 – excerpted from Wikipedia and Felicity Bryan Associates Literary Agency

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers Doubleday via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Ballroom by Anna Hope for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page


Author: sandysbookaday

I love good quality chocolate. I love the ocean and love to be in, on or beside it. I read any and every where. I am a proud mum and Nana. I like wine, gin, Southern Comfort, a cold Heineken on a hot day. I am very versatile like that. I cross stitch, do jigsaws, garden, and work on a farm. I am an occasional scribbled. I have far too many books I want to read to ever find the time to die. I am an active member of Goodreads as Sandy *the world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* and review on Amazon under the name Sandyj21. My Goodreads reviews are automatically linked to my Facebook page. Groups I belong to and participate in on Goodreads include: The Mystery, Crime and Thriller Group; Mysteries and Crime Thrillers; Psychological Thrillers; Reading for Pleasure; Crime Detective Mystery Thrillers; English Mysteries; Dead Good Crime; Kindle English Mystery, All About Books and NZ Readers. April 2016 I made the Top 1% of Goodreads reviewers (As follows) Hello Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*, In our community of readers, you stand out in a notable way: You're one of the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! With every rave and every pan, with every excited GIF and every critical assessment, you've helped the Goodreads community get closer to a very important milestone – the 50 Million Reviews mark!

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