Set in the infamous 19th century Salpêtriére asylum and based on actual events, this novel caused a sensation in the author’s native France. Run by Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, whose harsh treatments included public hypnosis, most of the women have been locked away by husbands and fathers, and considered to be mad or inconvenient. The highlight of the year is the ball held to show off the patients, now dressed in fancy costumes, to the Parisian elite, who are curious to mix with the dangerous women. Their stories, juxtaposed with the frenzied preparations for the ball, make this an unforgettable debut.
About the Author
Victoria Mas has worked in film in the United States, where she lived for eight years. She graduated from the Sorbonne University, where she studied contemporary literature. The Mad Women’s Ball, her first novel, has won several prizes in France, including the Prix Stanislas and Prix Renaudot des Lycéens, and has been hailed as the bestselling debut of the season.
“Mas elegantly blends feminist history and spiritualism, and poignantly demonstrates how the hospital is both prison and refuge for its residents, as Geneviève simultaneously grows disillusioned and empowered. Mas’s dark tale will have readers transfixed.”
— Publishers Weekly
“electrifying...The Mad Women’s Ball is a magnetic historical novel.”
— Foreword Reviews, *starred* review
“Potent and wicked ... a darkly entertaining piece of revisionist feminism” — Chicago Review of Books
“A must-read for all who have ever felt silenced” — SheKnows
“In this darkly delightful Gothic treasure, Mas explores grief, trauma, and sisterhood behind the walls of Paris’s infamous Salpêtrière hospital.” — Paula Hawkins
“The Mad Women’s Ball is a darkly sumptuous tale of wicked spectacle, wild injustice, and the insuppressible strength of women . . . as moving as it is macabre.” — Emma Stonex