The Madness


How did I get it?:
Received from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to them!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Quietness


Sixteen-year-old Marnie lives in the idyllic coastal village of Clevedon. Despite being crippled by a childhood exposure to polio, she seems set to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and become a ‘dipper’, escorting fragile female bathers into the sea. Her life is simple and safe. But then she meets Noah. Charming, handsome, son-of-the-local-Lord, Noah. She quickly develops a passion for him – a passion which consumes her.

As Marnie’s infatuation turns to fixation she starts to lose her grip on reality, and a harrowing and dangerous obsession develops that seems certain to end in tragedy. Set in the early Victorian era when propriety, modesty and repression were the rule, this is a taut psychological drama in which the breakdown of a young woman’s emotional state will have a devastating impact on all those around her.


I think this is the part where I declare my undying love for Alison Rattle’s writing. I didn’t think she could top The Quietness, but she has. The Madness is a terrific piece of work. It’s an unusual story, but unusual in a good way. It stands out against other books in the genre. I loved how the narrative splits between Marnie and extracts from Noah’s diary. I thought this was really effective. I could just see what was going to happen to poor Marnie.

I fell in love with Marnie. She comes across as a lot younger than her age because of her lack of education and lifestyle. Marnie lives with a disability. Her leg was crippled following polio. Yet, Marnie doesn’t let it stop her from enjoying the water. Marnie’s mother is a dipper. She believes that a dip in the sea can cure anyone of ailments. Marnie helps her mother with the business.

I think some of the strongest scenes in this book, were ones when Marnie was in the sea. She really came to life out there. She belonged in the sea. The sea brings Marnie to Noah. Noah is the Lord of the Manor’s son. He is in a completely different class to Marnie. Yet they both find themselves drawn to one another. Marnie teaches Noah about the sea. With each time spent with Noah, Marnie becomes even more infatuated by him. Perhaps too infatuated? I’ll let you read and see.

I think I knew throughout that this was going to be a sad story. From the way the people treated Marnie (even her own mother) and Marnie falling for an upper class gentlemen, there was no way that this would end well. Marnie is so innocent too, so trusting. I don’t see how anyone that reads this book could hate her. I just felt for her and wanted to take away her pain.

I can’t recommend this book enough. The writing is beautiful and sets the scene so wonderfully. I really felt transported to a 19th Century beach town.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

6 thoughts on “The Madness

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