The Ringmaster’s Wife
About This Book
An ounce of courage.
A leap of faith.
Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.
In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confi nes of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.
A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her arranged marriage. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.
When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, choosing instead the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.
A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the Greatest Show on Earth!
I am a sucker for good 20th Century historical fiction, and fiction based on real-life people, places and events is my absolute favorite kind of novel to read. Combine that with the brilliant writing I learned to expect from having read Cambron’s previous Hidden Masterpiece series, and there was no way I was going to miss The Ringmaster’s Wife.
Mostly a Downton Abbey-meets-Water for Elephants tale—with a hefty dose of Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding drama thrown in—I was swept up into this backstage circus story from the opening scenes. I love how Cambron took time setting her stage, easing her heroine—and me as the reader—into the crazy world of the “Greatest Show on Earth.” I loved the historical detail and backstage excitement of this story, from lavish settings to the characters’ whimsical friendships with circus animals, and had to delve into the Kleenex on multiple occasions.
The title is a little misleading, however, as the true-life story of Mable Ringling takes a pronounced back seat to the fictional romance of heiress-turned-bareback-rider Rosamund and circus manager Colin. Not that the romance wasn’t enjoyable—Colin’s protectiveness and unshakable belief in Rosamund was quite swoonworthy—but with a title like The Ringmaster’s Wife, I was expecting . . . well, a story about the ringmaster’s wife. Mable was more of a fairy godmother quietly working throughout the lives of Cambron’s fictional characters, with occasional flashback glimpses that surmised how she might have become that way. That being said, she did end up being my favorite character, so when all is said and done, I can’t be too unhappy about the title!
The only other thing I didn’t care for was the ending. Despite the obvious comparisons to Water for Elephants and The Greatest Show on Earth, most of this story felt refreshingly original right up to the final chapters. Then, unfortunately, it veered blindly over a melodramatic cliff a lá Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, and the spell was broken for me.
Still, The Ringmaster’s Wife was a lavish, enthralling story that historical romance fans will savor, and I’m definitely looking forward to Cambron’s next book!
Available June 7, 2016 from Thomas Nelson