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Publisher's Summary

When British hat manufacturer Christopher Brooke is arrested under Regulation 18B in June 1940, a slow process of personal disintegration begins, affecting his family irreversibly. 

Taking us into the pre-war political era of Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, Mad Hatter delves into the lives of Britons, tracking them through a darkening time. 

Irish farm girl, Mary Byrne, arrives in England in July 1940 to work as housekeeper for Cynthia Brooke and her three children, bonding with the family. When Mary is shockingly expelled from the house upon Christopher's release from internment in 1943, her narration continues through the mouth of 15-month-old Katie, conceived on a prison leave. 

Mad Hatter follows the Brooke family into the postwar period, charting the slow unraveling of a marriage as the story moves inexorably to a tragic conclusion in which Mary Byrne is once again embraced by the family, but in a most surprising manner.

©2019 Amanda Hale (P)2020 Amanda Hale

What listeners say about Mad Hatter

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Historical fiction, novel, romance-many genres

This book refuses to be pigeon-holed. It appeals to history lovers, romance readers as well as just a good yarn. You become involved with the characters.Obviously lots of historical details exhaustively researched.

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This Audio Book is A "Wow"!

I loved the printed hard copy book of Amanda Hale's novel, "Mad Hatter" but I think the audio book is even better. Hale reads the entire book, herself, playing all the different characters, skilfully switching accents with ease. The plot twists and turns with mystery, tension and, sometimes, subtle humour. The characters are refreshing probably because it's a fictionalised version of her father's tragic life as an English Fascist in World War 2 England.
Adjust your speakers, tweak the volume, relax and delight to a really fun ride of Amanda Hale revved up and killing it doing "Mad Hatter" to sublime perfection. Kind of like "The Yearling" on 6 Espressos.
Philip Cairns,
Toronto

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Incredible story told with grace and beauty

This was an incredible story, beautifully written and even more beautifully read. A rare stand out gem that needs to be read/heard. This is definitely one of my favourite listens of the year!

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Great Experience

Often it’s mistake for the author to narrate their own work. Not in in this case. Amanda Hale gives a superb reading of this atmospheric novel of WWII England. Her pitch perfect accents accentuate the novel’s nuanced contrast between homefront wartime experience of the upper middle class and that of working class characters.
The novel personalized a now less known undercurrent of British WWII history, the pro-fascist movement that coalesced around Oswald Mosley. Much deeper than a political story, is an intimate view how global events unfold in the lives and thoughts of sharply drawn characters.
Some have compared this novel to Michael Ondaaje’s War Light. It also reminded me of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Mad Hatter deserves a place among them, historical fiction at it’s best and an audio presentation that is truly a pleasure.

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A Palimpsest of Shadows

Mad Hatter is a great listen – and read – from beginning to end. In her novel, Ms Hale dives into history and imagination in an attempt to connect with her lost past, her family and herself. Her language is often poetic; her understanding of the Second World War’s emotional impact on people’s lives is insightful. In the audio version, Ms Hale plays her characters as if she’s a changeling. One moment she’s Mary Byrne, the Brooke family’s Irish housekeeper, the next she’s English Cynthia Brooke, struggling for happiness in a one-sided marriage. Then she’s Christopher, Cynthia's broken husband, who is either moralizing about England’s involvement in WW II, or trying to grasp why his relationship with his wife is falling apart. On occasion, she’s young Katie, waiting to be born, uninvited to a world that holds too many mysteries. Ms Hale’s narration reminds me of a one-person play I once saw in Vancouver, where the actor played sixteen different characters in the course of two hours. I was so enthralled by the performance that I dragged my entire social life to the theatre the next evening. Each friend was astonished by the actor’s skill, as I’m amazed by Ms Hale’s command of character. Mad Hatter is a significant piece of CanLit. The audiobook is a 14-hour journey into the life and soul of a family snared by circumstance and a liberation created with a writer's courage to dive deep.  

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  • Deedra
  • 2021-07-22

Mad Hatter

Wow!What a book!This is the story of a man,thrown in jail for his pascifism prior to WW2 and let go 3 years later as a Hitler/Jesus nut.His family suffers as they are harrassed by reporters and neighbors alike.I could barely put it down. Amanda Hale was a wonderful narrator as well as the author.I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Shoppermom
  • 2021-05-21

A part of history almost forgotten

I received a copy of this audiobook, which I had requested, as I was intrigued by the subject matter and the subtitle. Having listened to every word, I still understand nothing about the subtitle and am not sure I had missed all that much in my prior ignorance of the subject matter. In a nutshell: it's the story of a British nut job who believed whole-heartedly that Hitler's National Socialism was THE answer to all society's problems in the years leading up to the Second World War and even throughout its duration. He was not alone in that belief, but fortunately, as time went on, his co-crazies either wisened up or learned to shut up. Not so the patriarch of this beleaguered family. This is a tale told primarily by his fictionalized family. Fictionalized, but true none-the-less, with the author admitting that much of the story is based on the real-life, often heart-breaking, experiences of her own family. The book is far too long and cluttered with far too much inconsequential detail, and in the end, there's little to cheer about, except, I guess, survival.

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  • Ellen
  • 2020-09-10

One family story, a little known episode

Beautifully written and told Storey open England during the war while this is the author story it is not And autobiography That sheds light A little no one aspect of Britain during the war. So well written and Narrated. Grief, love, politics

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-01-17

Devastatingly Beautiful , Achingly Profound

Thank you so much Amanda Hale for this chef d'oeuvre ! The depth of the description of thé inner worlds of your characters are heart breaking - the repressed émotion, the shame. A skillful reading of a devastatingly beautiful story. Courageously told. I too especially love the voice of Mary Burn ... An achingly profound piece and à must listen for francophile knitters and soul-searchers alike 😉