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The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas

Our third BookBubble read of 2022 and our second historical fiction, this time set in Paris. 

The Salpêtrière asylum, 1985. All of Paris is captivated by Dr Charcot and his public demonstrations of hypnosis on those patients deemed to be hysterical. The truth is rather more complicated with ‘difficult’ and strong-willed women amongst those  admitted as patients. Once a year, a grand event is held – The Mad Women’s Ball – a highlight of the Parisian season, and for the women a rare glimpse of the outside world. 

A solid scoring book for us. The history of La Salpêtrière is fascinating – the site has had many uses over the years – and Dr Charcot was an eminent neurologist, known for his work on hypnosis and hysteria, amongst other things. It’s a sad, but interesting, reflection of a period when women had little influence over their lives. And all the more sobering for being inspired by real places, people and events.

Overall score: 6.1

Range: 4.5

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