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30 Books in 30 Days - Day 15: A book that makes you cry sad tears

Very few books actually move me to tears, but this is one of the saddest books I've read in a long time.

1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors, where men and women are kept apart by high walls and barred windows, there is a ballroom vast and beautiful. For one bright evening every week they come together and dance. When John and Ella meet it is a dance that will change two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM tells a riveting tale of dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which. It is a love story like no other.

This is not the kind of book I would normally pick up - it was on offer on Kindle when I bought it and I was attracted by the cover and the fact that it was set not far from where I grew up. It also had ballroom dancing in it, which was an added attraction. It was certainly enough for me to give it a go. It sat unread on my Kindle for quite some time, but during lockdown, being unable to get to the library has meant that I've finally had time to get through some of the Kindle Daily Deals I've bought over the years and this was one of them.

It's quite a dark story and throws a horrific light on the treatment of the mentally ill in the early years of the twentieth century, but it's also interesting to see what used to count as 'madness'. It touches on eugenics and politics and shows that love can thrive even in the most unlikely of places and between the most unlikely of people.

Ultimately, it's incredibly sad, but with just enough hope at the end to leave you feeling a little less bereft than you expected to. Sometimes when you read the description of a book, you find that the book doesn't quite live up to the tagline, but in this case it's absolutely spot on. John and Ella's love story is indeed like no other I've ever read.

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