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Brigid Brophy’s The Snow Ball is a festive love letter to the masked ball—and the perfect tonic to 2020

The 1964 novel, reissued this winter, touches on many things currently out of reach—the festivity of large parties; the crashing tide of revellers bumping into each other; and the delights of dalliances with strangers

By Rosalind Jana  

It is fun to read about other people’s parties at the best of times. Image: Masked Ball at the Opera, Edouard Manet

This has been the year of the mask. Leave the house for any destination—the shop, the park, the hospital, or the office—and they drift into view. Black. White. Ubiquitous medical-issue turquoise. Patterned cotton. An occasional showy satin. Out in public, we have become a nation without mouths.

There is a curious semi-anonymity to this new state of affairs. I am asked more regularly for my ID when buying wine (and wonder how many enterprising teens are taking advantage of the pandemic to procure booze.) Prior to this year, if you’d asked me to pinpoint the main function of…

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