Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy Cambron ~ Book Review

This is the story of two women who's lives were changed by the Ringling Brothers Circus of the 1920's.  Both had to find the courage to take a step of faith to make their dreams come to life.  Mabel was a young woman who left the comfort and familiarity of the farm she was raised on to head to the big city.  Taking a cigar box filled with clippings of her dreams she is working towards those  when a stranger comes into the restaurant she is working at and talks her boss into allowing her to escort him around the Chicago World's Fair.  Mabel at first has no idea who he is but later learns he was none other than John Ringling.  Meeting again in another city they eventually marry.  Mable is popular amongst the circus crew and performers for her quiet kindness and strength.

Rosamund Easling is a young lady who is raised in the wealthy parlors of her English Earl father.  He beloved brother lost his life in WWI and Rosamund misses him dearly.  She finds solace in barebacking riding with the precious horse her brother had given her.  But when her parents are forcing her into a marriage to another wealthy man and selling the horse to a man who is buying it for the Ringling circus in America, Rose is heartbroken.  When Colin sees her riding Ingenue he sees her potential as a performer and invites her to America with the horse.  Rosamund agrees and sneaks off with Colin on a boat to America leaving her parents a note.  Intending on returning eventually, Rose's life is changed when she encounters not only the fame and bright lights of the circus world but also the life of a type of nomad during show season and the harsh competitive nature of it.

I enjoyed this historical fiction novel that highlights the early life of the circus.  The story is told from the viewpoints of the two women and goes back and forth between them.  Though of both women's stories are centered in the 1920's Mable's starts of a bit earlier on the timeline.  There was a small issue for me in that a couple of times as the two women's stories started to intertwine that the timeline jumps got a little confusing and I did have to backtrack to the the beginnings of chapters to find out what year I was in.

Mable was the real life wife of John Ringling.  She was known for her wisdom and kindness and her and John built an amazing estate in Florida where they wintered in the off season but also had amazing parties whose invitations were coveted by both performers and the public. Rosamund and Colin are fictional characters added to the real life story of Mable and it makes for a good read.  It was interesting how Mable came from humble farming beginnings and rose up to be wealthy and Roseamund started very wealthy and chose to leave it and start from the bottom in the circus.  I thought the author did a wonderful job of conveying what the circus culture of the time would have been like.  How hard they all worked together and were like family and yet there was a competitive dynamic in some of the relationships.  A good clean read, I gave it an 8.5/10


Barbara H. said...

I have this on my Kindle. I've enjoyed the author's other two books so bought this one on a Kindle sale, though I thought the subject was a bit unusual. Thanks for your thoughts!

Deb said...

I think I would like this one. Will be looking for it! Thanks!

Becky said...

I read this one last year and liked it. I agree with you on the time jumps getting a bit confusing at times! Of the story lines, Mable's was my favorite--sounds like she was a fascinating woman!

Faith said...

I saw this at the library but I'm kinda anti circus so I never bothered taking it out. glad you enjoyed it!!

Karen said...

This sounds good. I just checked out the author's website and she has video tours of the actual house. I'm up for the month of May for my book club. This might be a fun read, given all the background info there is. Thanks for the review!