Reviews tagging Incest

The Mad Women's Ball, by Victoria Mas

3 reviews

whitneys_bookstack's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark mysterious reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

There is a lot of potential for this book, I loved the concept and wish it went deeper into the lives of these women and interactions between them. Overall good read 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

abbiemreads's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark emotional slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

miserablesplendor's review

Go to review page

dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

Back in the 1800s, the main cure for any female ailment is orgasms as well as long periods of rest. Serious cases were granted mixtures of cocaine and snake oil. So on the days when my own neuroses get too much to me, I think of that iconic Tumblr post from days of old: you gotta do cocaine about it.

Set in France, 1885, once a year, members of the public are invited to attended a ball at a local mental hospital where the institutionalised are paraded out for show. The infamous Salpêtrière asylum prides itself on caring for the insane and the hysterical under the tutelage of Doctor Charcot.

Recently-admitted patient Eugénie has a newfound ability that allows her to see ghosts, a claim which leads to her being thrown into the asylum and disowned from her bourgeois family. Not only that, her main carer is the senior nurse, Geneviève, a staunchly anti-religion woman, long burnt-out from caring for the women in the asylum. So what is Eugénie to do when Geneviève’s long-dead sister begins speaking to her?

First published in 2019, The Mad Women’s Ball is an award-winning French novel that is soon to be released as a film. Ahead of its release, NetGalley very kindly gave me an English translation for the novel.

To be real with you, my knowledge of History is limited to the World Wars with a sprinkling of understanding about the Cold War. Salpêtrière is a real hospital—still standing, in fact!—that was renowned for its contributions in furthering our understanding of hysteria and many other diseases. While these balls never happend in real life, I loved how Mas’ portrayal of Salpêtrière and of France in the 1800s are all based in actual history. Her research is so thorough that the texts and characters mentioned within the novel who are credited in footnotes at the end with further reading.

While it cannot be denied that some of the women in the asylum are certifiably insane, others like Eugénie are more rebellious than mentally-ill. The Mad Women’s Ball is an unquestionably feminist novel that questions how many of these “hysterical” women locked away are actually just women who are tired of men’s shit?

Unfortunately, this meant that in line with the social environment of the 1800s plus the setting of the novel, there are graphic depictions rape and self harm, a fact that I had wished I had known before reading. (For reference, you can check Storygraph for a list of content warnings for any books that you read, I just forgot to do so this time.) In my opinion, the scenes are skippable—your understanding of the story or the characters’ arcs will not be affected.

Even weeks after reading The Mad Women’s Ball, I’m still thinking about the nurses and the patients within the asylum. I could not put the book down when I was reading it, and I ended up devouring it in a night. This novel is definitely a worthwhile read, even if you’re planning on watching the movie when it’s out later in September.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings
More...