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Le Bal des folles - Prix Renaudot des…

Le Bal des folles - Prix Renaudot des Lycéens 2019 (edition 2019)

by Victoria Mas (Auteur)

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8914241,951 (4.35)1
Title:Le Bal des folles - Prix Renaudot des Lycéens 2019
Authors:Victoria Mas (Auteur)
Info:Albin Michel (2019), Edition: 01, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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Le Bal des folles - Prix Renaudot des Lycéens 2019 by Victoria Mas


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English (7)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  German (1)  All languages (14)
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The Mad Women’s Ball is a historical fiction novel set at the famous Salpetriere hospital in 1885. Dr. Charcot, now considered the father of French neurology, was renowned in his time for his treatment of hysteria as a neurological disease at the hospital. During his teaching, he would hypnotize patients and show off the physical manifestations of their hysteria to large groups of medical students..

The book’s title is the nickname of the Lenten Ball, when the hospital would open its doors to parade hysterical patients to the upper class. During the weeks before the ball, the patients’ normally boring schedule is replaced by time to design and sew their costumes for the ball, unaware that they were considered part of a freak show.

The ball preparation coincides with the admission of young Eugenie, who communicates with spirits. The normally stern and distant ward nurse Genevieve is shaken by the new patient and reexamines everything she has believed during her life. Since most people do not believe in spirits, does that mean anyone who does is insane? Are there hysterical people who should be released into society, or should their hospitalization be a life sentence? Does one conversation or one action justify hospitalizing someone for hysteria?

The Mad Women’s Ball succeeds in many ways. The novel captures the stark, yet sometimes comforting, experiences of women in Salpetriere. Mas compassionately brings her characters to life so that readers can identify with them, even though they are the throwaways of the book. Mas makes us care about them. She immerses her reader in this world and brutally exposes the injustices toward the mentally ill, particularly women. It was easy to curl up in a chair and ignore the rest of the world for a few hours to stay in her story.

If you enjoy historical fiction that transports you to a different time and circumstances, then check out The Mad Women’s Ball. ( )
  life2reinvent | Sep 8, 2021 |
Revered by Parisian society for his innovative ways of curing the insane, Dr Charlot presides over the Salpetriere Hospital. However the truth is that the majority of women held in there are not mad, they are abused, opinionated or simply inconvenient to their families. Genevieve is the matron, haunted by the death of her younger sister, she looks after the women in her care with empathy. Eugenie can see the dead and for that reason her father has imprisoned her in the Salpetriere but with Genevieve's help she can escape. The night of reckoning is the Lenten Ball, an event in which Parisian society comes the the Salpetriere to see and be seen.
This book has garnered lots of positive reviews and I can see why. Although there are lots of plot lines and larger themes, the narrative is quite tautly written and the book is short. The treatment of the insane women casts a light on both 19th century mental health and also on the fact that many women were declared insane and had no right of redress. Therefore the idea of the Lenten Ball is a great motif to draw the themes together and makes this book more than it appears on the surface. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Sep 6, 2021 |
This book has the potential to be one of the most talked-about books of the year. This fiercely feminist novel takes you inside Parisian insane asylum in 1885 and delves into all the ways women have been minimized and not believed over the centuries. More than that, it will rip your heart in two.

Nineteen-year-old Eugenie is outspoken, strong-willed and can see and hear the dead. It's the first two as much as the last that convince her father to commit her to an insane asylum. There, she meets Genevieve, a nurse who has devoted her life to the asylum and worships the head doctor. But when Eugenie carries a message from her dearly-missed dead sister, Genevieve begins to question everything she once knew was true. Eugenie struggles between hopelessness and longing for escape. Both women's fates will never be the same again once they meet.

Inside the asylum, the girls broken by the world are heart-wrenching, from sweet, naive Louise who keeps her heart open despite her tragic past, to motherly Therese who's been there long enough to be part of the soul of the institution and knits a shawl for each resident, giving them something made with love. Each of the committed girls has her own hopes for the Mad Women's Ball, where the elite of Parisian society come to stare at the mad girls.

The emotional ending will keep you thinking about it for a long time.

Trigger warning: rape, mental health issues

Thank you to NetGalley and Abrams for the advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  Asingrey | Jul 29, 2021 |
Some books are based on such an interesting premise that I can't wait to read them. Sometimes there's a brilliant payoff in discovering a great author or an new subgenre; other times the whole experience is meh. Victoria Mas' The Mad Women's Ball is certainly based on an interesting premise. And it is most definitely NOT meh.

Set in late 19th Century Paris, the novel follows several characters connected—through employment or institutionalization—connected to the Salpetriere Asylum. For its time, Salpetriere is ground-breaking. The new medical "tool" of hypnotism is being used to study female madness. Hundreds of medical men (and only men) gather to see Dr. Charcot, who directs Salpetriere, induce seizures in his patients, for reasons of medical research, of course.

The ball of the title is an annual event which the wealthiest, most powerful Parisians attend for a chance to rub shoulders with "madwomen," who for one night are allowed to dress in finery and mingle with those living outside the asylum. Yes, the mad women's ball was a real event. You can read more about it here: https://victorianparis.wordpress.com/2021/02/02/the-madwomens-ball-a-flattering-...

Of course, many of the mad women aren't mad at all. This is an era when it's easy for a man to "dispose" of an inconvenient wife, mother, or daughter by taking her to Salpetriere. There's Therese, a murderess with an excellent reason for her crime; Louise, subjected to her uncle's sexual abuse; and Eugenie, who is visited by the dead. Eugenie has been committed by her father—a wealthy authoritarian and rationalist—who disowns her shortly after she confesses her "gift" to her beloved grandmother.

The Mad Women's Ball explores two topics: perceptions of female madness and the possibility of spirit communication. The novel's characters have strong opinions about each. Victoria Mas shows us their many different responses when those opinions are challenged.

The Mad Women's Ball succeeds as a fast-paced story of adversity and (occasional) triumph. It also gives readers a great deal to chew over regarding both history, what it means to be female, and their own perceptions. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Jul 7, 2021 |
May is mental health awareness month, a subject in which I have a vested interest. There is no doubt that the treatment of mental health has improved but there is also little doubt that access to treatment is not available to everyone in need. Also, the stigma of having a mental health issue is very much alive. Still, things have changed albeit slowly. The treatment of women in the past became very much an issue with husbands, fathers, and others could inter women in a mental health institute for disobedience, for being different, for being rebellious and many other issues that had nothing to do with insanity. And so may I present, The Madwomen's Ball.

Paris France, 1885, The Salpetriere, an institute for the insane. It is here the famous Dr. Charcot will make his reputation, giving live examples on various women, showcasing hypnosis. This book features four women, one who works as a nurse at the Institute, two who are patients and a young woman from a wealthy family whose father brings her to the Institute after learning she can communicate with the dead.

We learn of life, treatment inside the Institute walls, get to know these four women with very different motives and feelings about being placed here. It is a novel of friendship, misjudgements, mistreatment and sisterhood. It emphasizes the strength of women, and the unfairness of society. It is a good story that has won many literary prizes in France and is being made into a movie by Amazon.

ARC from Netgalley. ( )
  Beamis12 | May 14, 2021 |
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