3 March 1885
‘Louise. It is time.’
With one hand, Genevieve pulls back the blanket that hides the sleeping figure of the girl. Curled up in a foetal position on the narrow mattress, her mass of thick, dark hair covers the pillow and part of her face. Lips parted, Louise is snoring softly. She cannot hear the other women, who are already awake and bustling about the dormitory. Between the rows of iron bedsteads, the women stretch, pin the hair up into chignons, button their ebony gowns over their translucent nightshifts, then trudge wearily towards the refectory under the watchful eye of the nurses. Timorous rays of sunshine steal through the misted windows.
Today’s first lines are taken from The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas, a bestseller in France which is published in the UK by Doubleday on June 17th. As soon as I saw the stunning cover and read the synopsis I knew this was a book for me. Thank you to Doubleday for sending me a copy to review.
‘Enter the danse of this little masterpiece and let yourself be dazzled. Assured of hitting the bestseller lists’ The Parisian; ‘Essential reading’ Cosmopolitan ‘A lovely, moving first novel, a cri de Coeur against the condition of women in this world’ Marie France
The Salpêtrière asylum,1885. All of Paris is in thrall to Doctor Charcot and his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad or hysterical, outcasts from society. But the truth is much more complicated – for these women are often simply inconvenient, unwanted wives or strong-willed daughters. Once a year a grand ball is held at the hospital. For the Parisian elite, the Mad Women’s Ball is the highlight of the social season; for the women themselves, it is a rare moment of hope.
Geneviève is a senior nurse. After the childhood death of her sister, she has shunned religion and placed her faith in Doctor Charcot and his new science. But everything begins to change when she meets Eugénie, the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeois family. Because Eugénie has a secret, and she needs Genevieve’s help. Their fates will collide on the night of the Mad Women’s Ball…
You can pre-order the book here*
Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx
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