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The Madness by Alison Rattle

The Madness

NewGen - YA Fiction   Books of the Month   Relationship Stories   Romantic Fiction   
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March 2014 New Gen Book of the Month.

A heartbreaking love story set at the Victorian seaside. Crippled Marnie, daughter to a ‘dipper’, a woman who helps Victorian ladies enjoy the seawater, loves the sea. It is here that she feels truly at home. Here she is free from her rough life with her Ma and her Ma’s companion and free from being jeered at for her deformity. It is down on the seashore that Marnie first meets Noah de Clevedon, son of the local landowner. Soon the two of them have a very special relationship but, as their twin stories unfold, it is clear that they want completely different things out of it.

A Piece of Passion from Sarah Odedina, Managing Director, Hot Key Books The Madness is a deliciously dark tale about the unravelling of a young woman's grasp on reality. She falls for the wrong young man. Convinced all he needs is a bit of encouragement from her to understand that she is the right woman for him our heroine doesn't realise that her encouragement has become something altogether more threatening. Until it is just too late to go back. In The Madness Alison has created a really memorable story, one that unfolds at a rollicking pace and a pace that is only picked up further as the reader races towards the terrifying end. This is Alison's second book and it is a tour-de-force.

Reader Reviews

A small number of members were lucky enough to be invited to review The Madness.   You can read their reviews below.

  • Barbara Goldie - 'Seaside resort, dippers, love and obsession make this a thrilling read.' Read full review >
  • Juliana Christianson - 'I really enjoyed the storyline, the plot was indepth and detailed, giving two points of view...You must read it to experience it for yourself.' Read full review >
  • Tricia Clement - 'This is a story that takes you through the highs and lows of Marnie’s life with an ending that you might not be expecting.' Read full review >
  • Carla McGuigan - 'This novel captured my heart and if you love a novel with romance and secrets then you are sure to love this story.' Read full review >
  • Danielle Shepherd- 'A stunningly wonderful read which I devoured greedily and which had me hooked from the first page.' Read full review >
  • Ciara McIlvenna - 'A lyrical yet tragic depiction of unconditional love. This story will stay with you long after you have turned the last page. A mesmeric novel.' Read full review >
  • Elisabeth Thomas -  'A tragic story of forbidden love and obsession...The book is superbly written and the description in the book is fantastic.' Read full review >
  • Vanessa Wild - 'An intriguing, thought provoking and dark read which will have you anxiously turning the pages!' Read full review >
  • Jennifer Moville - 'This is one of those books I couldn't put down - each time I reached the end of a chapter I wanted to know more...An excellent book that I will definately re-read.' Read full review >
  • Carina Barnett - 'This is a moving and beautifully written book and evokes the madness of unrequited love and young adulthood, along with the timelessness and power of the sea.' Read full review >
  • Jayne Burton - 'Really enjoyed this book, especially as I live in Clevedon where it is set...Very well written and descriptive with an unexpected end.  I loved it.' Read full review >
  • Sarah Murray - 'Watching the downfall of both Marine and Noah was heart-breaking, however, this tragic story was beautifully written.' Read full review >
  • Lynne Rapson - 'Atmospheric tale of young love in 1860s and how the class divide affected the main characters.  Sad and haunting story.'  Read full review >
  • Jenny Duffy - 'This is an emotional and tragic love story, with a convincing and detailed historical setting.' Read full review >


The Madness by Alison Rattle

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.


An excellent work of historical fiction perfectly written for teenagers. * We Love This Book (PRAISE FOR THE QUIETNESS) *

About the Author

Alison Rattle

Alison Rattle grew up in Liverpool, and now lives in a medieval house in Somerset with her three teenage children, her partner - a carpenter - an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat. She has co-authored a number of non-fiction titles on subjects as diverse as growing old, mad monarchs, how to boil a flamingo, the history of America and the biography of a nineteenth-century baby killer. She has worked as a fashion designer, a production controller, a painter and decorator, a barmaid, and now owns and runs a vintage tea room.

A Q&A with Alison

What inspires your writing?

The weather, my moods, a photograph, a sentence in a book, memories, emotions.

What has been the most exciting moment of your career so far?

Having Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Dr. Who!) read out a poem of mine in front of an audience at the Nottingham Playhouse when I was about 10, was pretty exciting. But receiving a phone call from my agent Jo, telling me she had landed me a two-book deal with Hot Key Books, has definitely now eclipsed that experience!

How did you first become an author?
By pure luck. A writer friend asked for my help in writing a book he had been commissioned to write but didn’t have the time for. It was a book about ghosts.

What are you reading right now?
Julie Myerson Then, Sally Gardner Maggot Moon, Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture

What was your earliest career aspiration?

To be a writer or fashion designer. I did the designer bit first. It seemed a more obtainable goal somehow.

What advice would you give to budding writers?
As always - read, read, read ‘til your eyes pop out. Write about what interests you and moves you, not what you think people want to read. Be happy in your own company and don’t ever become a writer for the financial rewards!

What was your favourite childhood book?
As a very young child it was Enid Blyton’s Hollow Tree House. I read it over and over again and would have given anything to live in a secret tree house. As a teenager I loved Deborah Moggach’s Porky and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Where is your favourite place to write?
I wish my favourite place to write was at home. I would have peace and quiet and an endless supply of free tea. I just can’t do it at home though. I get too distracted by dirty floors and piles of ironing. So I take myself off to a well known high street café where I spend a fortune on crappy frappes and muffins and where the hum of voices around me create the perfect writing environment - for me anyway.

How do you read- print, digitally or both?
I totally read print. Can’t beat the sound and feel of real pages.

Who do you most admire?
My partner’s 90 year old grandmother. She is intellectually vibrant, has very strong opinions, can crack a joke, operate a computer and buys her clothes from TopShop!

Are there any books you wish you had written?
Maria McCann As Meat Loves Salt, John Irving Cider House Rules, James Bradley The Resurrectionist, Markus Zusak The Book Thief. I could go on and on.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th March 2014


Alison Rattle

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Hot Key Books


336 pages
Interest Age: From 16 to 19 years


NewGen - YA Fiction
Books of the Month
Relationship Stories
Romantic Fiction

Thrillers (Children's / Teenage)
Romance & relationships stories (Children's / Teenage)



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