The Mad Women’s Ball

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) The Mad Women’s Ball – Victoria Mas

I adore a good historical fiction novel and this one is perfect this time of year as it is set in an asylum for women in Paris, what’s creepier than that!? This short novel tells the story of one young woman who does not conform to her father’s and society’s notions of what a woman should be and thus finds herself committed to an asylum against her will. 

This novel explores what it means to be a woman who does not conform, the treatment of patients who have been institutionalized (for a variety of reasons), and the lives of women who reside and work within these institutions. Mas paints a portrait of Parisian life that is at once gorgeous and horrifying. The limited agency of the women forced to live in the asylum is the horrific counterpoint to the opulence and voyeuristic nature of ‘The Mad Women’s Ball’ when the rich and connected of Paris come to the asylum to participate in the ball and to ‘see’ the ‘mad women’ who live there. 

Mas beautifully interweaves social commentary and a story of self acceptance, friendship, loyalty, and daring escape. Escape not only from the asylum itself but also from the grip of restrictive familial and social strictures placed upon women. If you enjoy historical fiction, social commentary in novel form, or just a good escape in spite of overwhelming odds, you may want to pick this one up!

Read on my friends!

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