Lady Rosamund Easlinglongs for a different life than that of the dying aristocracy in which she has been brought up. When her parents sell her trick-riding horse to the Ringling Brothers Circus, she defies her parents' expectations and escorts the horse to America to help with its training. As the training progresses, the circus gets into her blood ad Rosamund herself joins the act under the Big Top--but not everyone wants her there.
Part history and a lot imagination, The Ringmaster's Wife is mostly about Rosamund, but flashbacks to Mable Burton Ringling's life--as she meets John Ringling, falls in love, and becomes part of the heart of the circus--add to the story. There are a lot of parallels between Rosamund and Mable, yet also aspects in which they come from opposite ends of life, such as Mable rising from a farm girl to become American royalty, whereas Rosamund begins life as a lady to a landed estate and gives it up to become the least in the circus.
I expected Rosamund to be more spoiled, more selfish, more disillusioned by circus life, but she surprised me--she's really a pleasant person, willing to work hard for her dream. It's not a simple love of horses that drives her to abandon her upbringing, but rather the memories and dreams of a love she had shared. She has doubts and fears like anyone, but I liked her and respected her far more than I anticipated from reading the book blurb.
There isn't a strong spiritual lesson, but there is quiet faith worked effortlessly throughout the story, expressed by characters and circumstances. Biblical principles without them having to be spelled out with book and verse numbers. Grace, forgiveness, dreams--all play a significant role in the story. That touch of bittersweet to the ending really sealed it for me. 5 out of 5 stars!
Thank you Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing an e-copy for review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.