In this slim gothic set in 1885 Paris, "troublesome" women and girls are declared to be hysterics by their fathers, husbands and brothers and locked away in the Salpetriere asylum. But "troublesome" is a subjective label, and this seductive smart novel follows a patient and a nurse as their paths collide. This hypnotic novel has already been optioned for film, and it's a terrific recommendation for fans of The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton, and The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry.
Soon to be a major film from Amazon Studios, the prizewinning French bestseller
“In this darkly delightful Gothic treasure, Mas explores grief, trauma, and sisterhood behind the walls of Paris’s infamous Salpêtrière hospital.”
—Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train
The Salpetriere Asylum: Paris, 1885. Dr. Charcot holds all of Paris in thrall with his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad and cast out from society. But the truth is much more complicated—these women are often simply inconvenient, unwanted wives, those who have lost something precious, wayward daughters, or girls born from adulterous relationships. For Parisian society, the highlight of the year is the Lenten ball—the Madwomen’s Ball—when the great and good come to gawk at the patients of the Salpetriere dressed up in their finery for one night only. For the women themselves, it is a rare moment of hope. Genevieve is a senior nurse. After the childhood death of her sister Blandine, she shunned religion and placed her faith in both the celebrated psychiatrist Dr. Charcot and science. But everything begins to change when she meets Eugenie, the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeois family that has locked her away in the asylum. Because Eugenie has a secret: she sees spirits. Inspired by the scandalous, banned work that all of Paris is talking about, The Book of Spirits,Eugenie is determined to escape from the asylum—and the bonds of her gender—and seek out those who will believe in her. And for that she will need Genevieve's help . . .
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.