Tuesday 30 March 2021

Book Review: The Mad Women's Ball by Victoria Mas (Historical Fiction)

Title: The Mad Women's Ball
Author: Victoria Mas
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 17 June 2021
eBook - PDF
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

The Salpetriere asylum, Paris, 1885. Dr Charcot holds all of Paris in thrall with his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad, hysterics, and been cast out from society. But the truth is much more complicated – these women are often simply inconvenient', unwanted wives, those who have lost something precious, or wayward daughters. For Parisian society, the highlight of the year is The Mad Women’s Ball, when the great and good come to gawk at the patients of the Salpetriere dressed up in their finery for one night only. For the women themselves it is a rare moment of hope.

Genevieve is a senior nurse – after the childhood death of her sister Blandine, she shunned religion and has placed her faith in Dr Charcot and science. But everything begins to change when she meets Eugenie, the 19 year old daughter of a bourgeois family who have locked her away in the asylum. Because Eugenie has a secret - she sees spirits. Inspired by the scandalous, banned work that all of Paris is talking about – The Book of Spirits – Genevieve is determined to escape from the asylum (and the bonds of her gender) and seek out those who will believe in her. And for that she will need Genevieve's help...


The Mad Women's Ball was an interesting and engaging piece of historical fiction with a feminist edge. At a little over 200 pages it was a quick and easy read, yet the story is well paced and the characters well presented, especially Genevieve. Once or twice I wondered if I would have liked something more from it, though I couldn't tell you what, but overall I found it an enjoyable read that looked at the place of women in the late nineteenth century and packed some emotional punch. Recommended for fans of historical fiction.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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