Attended yet another amazing book discussion tonight with some of my absolute favorite book people to discuss The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas hosted by Oxford Exchange bookstore.
To describe the love that the members have for this discussion group, one of the regular members attended with us while at the airport about ready to board her plane. It was great chatting with her before she headed to Salem!
One of the things we discussed about this book was how all of us enjoyed the length of it. For many of us, it was a breath of fresh air to read a shorter length book, and while some of us wish we had more, many of us were blown away at the character development that Victoria Mas could do for all the characters in such a short amount of time. The book while not feeling forced at all, was able to incorporate so many things and even mirror lessons within its subplots to the overall plot and the book itself. We all felt that it was a great feminist book showing women’s strength even in times when they had no control over their lives. Although the book was sad, and was such a harsh reality, it was empowering in a sense and gave validation to those who needed it.
An interesting question that was brought up was whether or not we thought that the Asylum was a good place for the people who really needed it. In reality, we decided that it wasn’t and it did more harm than good. That even if it did help a few people in some way, it hurt others way more, even their mental and physical health with the experiments being done on them. The fact that it was run by men who didn’t even understand women, especially in the burdens, hardships, and emotional sense really pushes the sense that there could have been a better place for women to actually grow and get better without feeling trapped.
One of the women who was torn up the most mentally and physically by the men in her life had one of the most impactful character developments in the story and it seemed like from our talk, everyone else had the same opinion about that also. It was very moving how a girl who most of us would have guessed would have turned out broken in the end, ended up one of the strongest of all and a symbol of strength for all the other women.
One of the things that is very beneficial when it comes to group discussion is that someone brings up something that others may have forgotten about. For example, the time period and how children, even boys, were not allowed to speak out. This helps in realizing that although at first, we may have been irritated with a character and their being compliant as a bystander, that it goes deeper than that, and we have to think about the time period and culture they were raised in.
Lastly, although there was so much talked about, something that I found so cute and I hear often enough to mention is how readers sometimes interact with the characters by speaking out loud to them or even calling them out for things. The most interesting part in that interaction is the satisfaction a reader gets if the character calls himself out for the same thing the reader just had. I have had that satisfaction myself! For example, when you call a character a weak fraud and then not too long later the character thinks about how much of a weak fraud he was. Apparently, I am not the only one who finds that such a wonderful feeling.
I was so thankful for another awesome event that made my night. This book is a must read that is perfect for discussion but does contain triggers. If you do not mind spoilers, feel free to read my review about it on Goodreads.