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1911 – New York
Two women–bound by blood, torn apart by circumstance–find together that true strength comes in many forms.
Mabel MacGinnis is Europe’s strongest woman and has performed beside her father in the Manzo Brothers Circus her entire life. When he dies unexpectedly, she loses everything she’s ever known and sets off in the company of acrobat Jake Cunningham in hope of finding the mother she thought was dead.
Isabella Moreau, America’s most feted aerialist, has given everything to the circus. But age and injury now threaten her security, and Isabella, stalked by old fears, makes a choice that risks everything. Then her daughter Mabel appears alongside the man who never wanted to see Isabella again, and she is forced to face the truth of where, and in what, she derives her worth.
As Mabel and Isabella’s lives become entangled beneath the glittering lights and flying trapeze of Madison Square Garden, their resiliency and resolve are tested as they learn the truth of what it means to be strong.
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1911 – New York
A deadly fire. A sensational sideshow. And a baby fighting for its life.
New York City at the turn of the twentieth century is as captivating as it is macabre and as magnificent as it is barbaric, as young Sophie Rosenfeld is about to learn. She yearns for life beyond the dreary tenements, but losing all her family except for her fragile niece, Mercy, in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire has left her with little opportunity. Sophie has to save Mercy’s life, but to do so she must follow a mysterious man to the only place in the world that saves premature babies: Dr. Martin Couney and his Coney Island side show.
Even as society threatens to shut down Dr. Couney’s life-saving work for premature babies, Sophie joins him in fighting for their lives. Amidst the glittering menagerie of lights, astonishing sights, and her new friends, including the handsome acrobat, Nicholas “Nick” Volenski, Sophie begins to find hope.
From the lavish, dangerous shores of Coney Island, to the harsh but at times tender tenement life, Sophie’s heart is split wide open by a roller coaster of unrelenting tragedies, and she finds herself doubting the faith that has always buoyed her. Will Nick and her new friends be just the salve Sophie needs to help assuage her grief? Or will she be forced to return to a life that stifled her?
Inspired by true events, Miracle at the Sideshow brings to life two back-to-back stories of fire and injustice that shocked the nation into improving worker safety, and which led to techniques still used in neonatal intensive care units today to save the lives of premature babies.
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1936/present day – Florida
In 1936–A party at the Ringling mansion Ca d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, leads to a robbery–and possibly death.
A successful historical mystery writer, Chloe Whitfield comes to Ca’ d’Zan to research her next novel. Chloe’s fascination with the circus is rooted in family stories of her great-grandmother Lucinda Conroy, who reportedly was a trapeze artist of some renown. She’s heard hints of scandal—and perhaps larceny, but no details.
Chloe’s grandmother—rumored to be Lucinda’s only offspring—was raised in an orphanage and never knew her mother. Intrigued as she is, Chloe has no intent of writing about Lucinda until she sees a poster featuring Lucinda as the star performer for a 70th birthday gala for John Ringling in May of 1936. From there the trail goes cold.
Who was Lucinda and what happened to her?
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1817 – England
Aaron Whitworth hasn’t had control over most aspects of his life, but he’s always taken pride in being an honorable businessman and better-than-average horseman. When both of those claims are threatened, he makes the desperate decision to hire the horse trainer of a traveling circus as a temporary jockey for his racehorses.
Sophia Fitzroy knows that most horsemen don’t take her seriously because she’s a woman, but she can’t pass up the opportunity to get away from the tumultuous world of travel and performing. As she fights for the right to do the work she was hired for, she learns the fight for Aaron’s guarded heart might be an even more worthwhile challenge.
As secrets come to light and past vulnerabilities are confronted, will Aaron and Sophia sacrifice their former dreams and forge a new one together–against all odds?
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1890s – Louisiana
A Short Story from the Greatest Season on Earth
Newlyweds Charlie and Ella Lionheart are spending their first holiday season together within the circus at New Orleans. It’s Ella’s first Christmas away from her mountain home and with thoughts of family and new beginnings, see what surprises the kindhearted lion tamer has in store for her on Christmas Eve.
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1890 – Virginia
Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.
As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.
The Ringmaster’s Wife
1926 – Circus circuit
An ounce of courage. A split-second 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 to call her own, 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 of Yorkshire, England, boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her life is planned out for her. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties in the grandest ballrooms the country has to offer. 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, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.