Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.
The book is inspired by the story of my great-great-grandfather who came to England from the west of Ireland at the end of the 19th century. His story was a tragic one, and he died in the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 1918 while his son was fighting on the Western Front. As I learnt more of his life I became fascinated by the asylum, later known as High Royds Hospital. It was an extraordinary, purpose built building with a magnificent ballroom at its heart. When I saw the pictures of that astonishing ballroom and heard about the patients coming together every Friday evening to dance, I knew I had to write about it.
There’s a fantastic online archive dedicated to the asylum by local photographer and historian Mark Davis here.
If you want to buy it the book, you can check it out here. But if it’s on sale in your local independent bookshop, please do buy it from there instead! (Or Waterstones.)
One of Stylist Magazine’s 10 Hot Books To Look Forward to 2016
Called a ‘startling love story,’ it’s one of National Book Tokens 16 Highly Anticipated Books for 2016
“An original, brilliant, evocative novel” (Chris Cleave)
“A heartbreaking story of how love can flourish in the darkest of times” (Cathy Rentzenbrink)
“A poignant against-the-odds love story” (Glamour)