When Christopher Brooke is arrested under Regulation 18B in June 1940, a slow process of personal disintegration begins, affecting his family irreversibly. Irish farm girl Mary Byrne is hired as housekeeper for the Brooke household and proves an acute observer of the daily lives of Cynthia Brooke and her three children. But when Mary is shockingly expelled from the house upon Christopher's release from internment, 15-month-old Katie -- conceived on a prison leave and now speaking from adulthood -- takes over as narrator. Moving from the pre-war political era of Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, Mad Hatter delves into the wartime lives of Britons, and tracks them into the aftermath in a disturbing but ultimately transcendent story of a daughter's search for family history. Mad Hatter charts the gradual unravelling of a marriage and the tightening of its children in the devastation of post-war England as the story of the Brooke family moves inexorably to a tragic conclusion in which Mary Byrne is once again embraced by the family, but in a most surprising manner.
Guernica Editions (Essential Prose Series)
462 pages |
Twelve years in the planning and six in the writing, Mad Hatter is an intense and tragic book, a synthesis of fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction. Its primary subject is the misguided political endeavours of Christopher Brooke, an early disciple of Oswald Mosley, an organizer for the British Union of Fascists, and eventually a self-styled prophet of the rebirth of the Kingdom of God—destined to rise, preposterously but also distressingly, out of the ashes of Hitler’s failed campaigns.
Hilary Turner, Canadian Literature
If you think the fascist politics of Oswald Mosley is old hat, read Mad Hatter and think again. Amanda Hale, drawing on childhood experience, brings emotional intelligence to bear on the fatal marriage of personal and political.Ted Goodden, author of Glory Boy
Mad Hatter is an absorbing story about a lesser-known aspect of the World War II years and its effect on homefront lives.
Historical Novel Society
Mad Hatter is an impressive, emotional, disturbing, and, finally, extremely rewarding novel.
Ottawa Review of Books
Told from multiple points of view, Mad Hatter is a sensitive and poetic inquiry into the nature of family, misguided idealism and conditions in the United Kingdom leading to and during the stressful wartime period. Hale uses her own personal story as a spotlight on the forces at play in Britain and in Europe during this critical period. It is a delicate subject and one applauds both the author and publisher for daring to tackle it.
Pacific Rim Review of Books
Twelve years in the planning and six in the writing, Mad Hatter is an intense and tragic book, a synthesis of fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction.
Canadian Literature: A Quarterly Criticism and Review
About the author
Amanda Hale has published three novels, two collections of linked fictions set in the Cuban town of Baracoa, and two poetry chapbooks. She won the Prism International prize for creative non-fiction for The Death of Pedro Iván, and has twice been a finalist for the Relit Fiction award. Her novels and Cuban stories have been translated into Spanish; Sondeando la sangre was presented at the 2017 Havana International Book Fair. Hale is the librettist for Pomegranate, an opera set in ancient Pompeii, premiered in Toronto in 2019.