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 confines 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!
“You can do this, Rose.”
“How? How do you know that?
“Because I believe in you. And I chose you, Rose.”
Colin stopped, shocked that he’d actually said the thought aloud. The sentiment was one of familiarity – one that couldn’t rely on a platonic relationship between show boss and employee forever.
He wanted – no, needed – her to know that her presence there wasn’t a mistake.
Rosamund remained silent.
She blinked, an earnestness covering her features. It was enough that he pulled back from the connection of her green eyes to his.
He clapped his hands against his legs and stood to leave.
“Remember what you said to me in the stable at Easling Park? It was your wish to live a new life. Well, this is the life. And if you could forget what you think you’re supposed to do for one minute, you just might ride out into that ring and have the most fun you’ve ever had.”
He reminded Rose of the words she’d whispered to Ingénue after the first ride they’d had in Florida. He hoped they were well placed now.
“Stay here, okay? I want to send the doctor in to check you over.” When she opened her mouth to counter, Colin raised a hand to stop her. “And no disagreement this time. We’ve got a process to how things are done here. Anyone falls in the ring, the doctor is sent in. No arguments.”
She nodded understanding. Even graced him with the hint of a thankful smile as she readjusted the muslin pack of chipped ice on her elbow.
“Chin up, Rose. The show rolls in two days, and we’ll start again.” He turned to leave. He wasn’t sure he could stand another moment of watching the pain flooding those beautiful green eyes . . .
He turned back. Was jarred by the welcoming green once again.
She drew in a deep breath, then offered, “Thank you.”
“You’re still my star, Rose. I know I’m right about you. But we can’t work with anything less than your whole heart out there. You’ve always known your own mind. So get out there and prove it to everyone else.”
If you pick this novel up (and I really think you should!) you are in for such a treat. Its lyrical prose transported me effortlessly to the vibrant and energetic world of the Ringling Brothers’ Circus, capturing not just the sights and sounds, but also the personalities and the emotional highs and lows that made up this fascinating world.
Mable Ringling may be the eponymous character – The Ringmaster’s Wife – but it is the story of Lady Rosamund Easling and circus manager and recruiter, Colin Keary, that takes centre ring in the novel. As their story unfolds, the reader is given glimpses into Mable’s past – her beginnings as plain Armilda Burton, a plain farm girl who pursued her dream of a life beyond her plain expectations – in a way that parallels and eventually influences Rosamund’s own journey. Although from very different backgrounds, both women made a deliberate (and courageous) choice to leave behind the world they knew and embrace an unconventional life with the circus.
This is one of those stories where I’m hesitant to say much about the plot, because so much of the enjoyment comes from getting to know the characters and sharing their journey as the story unfolds. And I really loved these characters! Every scene felt like I was spending quality time with them; getting to know them, experiencing their world, glimpsing their strengths and their vulnerabilities, sharing their struggles and triumphs, watching their friendship develop, and, particularly in Colin’s case, learning a little more of their stories.
This was a truly beautiful reading experience with a poignant message about how we view ourselves and our circumstances, and how that affects the way we live our lives and the choices we make. It takes courage (and faith!) to see beyond the obvious and embrace the potential, but how much richer life can be when we do!
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 7 June 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Author’s website: https://kristycambron.com/