Monday, July 11, 2016

The Ringmaster's Wife {Review}

The Ringmaster's Wife
The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy Cambron
Visit the Author's Website HERE
Publishing Date: June 7, 2016
What is revealed when you draw back the curtain of the Greatest Show on Earth?

Rosamund Easling is no stranger to opulence. As the daughter of an earl, she’s grown up with every comfort money can buy. But when hard times befall the family’s Yorkshire estate in the aftermath of the Great War, Rosamund’s father sells her beloved horse, setting the stage for a series of events that would extend beyond even her wildest dreams.

Though expected to marry for a title instead of love, Rosamund feels called to a different life – one of adventure outside the confines of a ladies’ parlor. She abandons all she’s known and follows in pursuit as her horse is shipped to the new owner – an American entertainer by the name of John Ringling. Once introduced to the Ringling Brothers’ circus and knowing she has much to learn, Rosamund agrees to a bareback riding apprenticeship in the shadow of the Ringlings’ winter home—Ca’D’Zan. It is at that mansion, in what would become the last days of the enigmatic Mable Ringling’s life, that Rosamund finds a deeper sense of purpose in the life she’s been given, and the awakening of faith in her heart.

With a supporting cast of characters as mysterious and dazzling as the Ringlings’ big-top world, Rosamund’s journey takes her from the tradition of the English countryside to the last days of America’s Roaring ‘20s—a journey that forever changes what one life might have been.
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Buy a copy today!

My Thoughts:
I was totally blown away with Cambron's previous works, which focused on the Holocaust. It was both saddening and fun to see her break away to something really different with 'The Ringmaster's Wife'. Cambron still kept her alternating POV style, although this time both characters are set in history. Mabel brings us to the 1900s and Rosamund to the 1920s.

Let me establish from the beginning that Cambron's writing is still sublime.
Little girls of all ages were gathered around Rose. They absorbed every smile from the bareback riding star, laughing and asking for autographs in a delighted swarm of swishing skirts, ankle socks, and black buckle shoes. (pg 244)
That is just the snippet I used for my Sneak Peek, but it turns out to be a fine example of Cambron's writing style. She has such an ability to bring the pages to life, using rich imagery to paint clear, bright pictures. 
Frederick Whitman Glasier. Equestrienne on horseback, ca. 1903. Photograph. Collection of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Archives, Glasier Glass Plate Negative Collection, 0063.:
However, the story jumps all over the place which totally ruined any effort put forth by the reader to become emotionally involved with the characters. Mabel's parts could have been cut entirely so that Rosamund's story could really shine. Instead, we lose scenes like Rose really connecting to the audience finally and a good development of her romance with Colin. The 'showdown' between Rose and her nemesis left me flipping through pages saying 'I missed something. I totally must have missed something'. While it made sudden and complete sense to Rose, it made no sense to me whatsoever. After rereading the scene several times, I still don't get it. 

While I love that Rosamund shook off the bonds of her privileged English life, I struggled to view her in a positive light after her naivete and rash decisions put her family in financial peril. Thinking that her family would ever welcome her back after she ran away with a working class man from the circus, is simply not going to happen.

Mabel was a fun dreamer and I did enjoy this fictional look at her background. Her relationship with John Ringling was "Prince Charming"-esque, which just doesn't fit with Cambron's style. It's more Rachel Hauck.

Okay, so I do totally admit that my previous interactions with Cambron's works probably has me biased and overly critical of 'Ringmaster'. But the book is jumpy and hard to track, I feel that is undeniable. However, I still have faith in Cambron. Her dedication to historical fiction and research is beautiful and entertaining. The Ringling circus truly came to life, becoming larger than life lifting right off the page. I would rate this one with 3.5 stars, but I am trying to move away from half stars, so I will confidently round up to 4 stars. Fans of odd points in history, Kristy Cambron, or the circus will truly enjoy this read. I, however, will shelf this one and impatiently wait for her next work

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