Dust off your dancing shoes, this glitz and glam Radio City Music Hall story is certain to put some pep in your step.
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New York City, 1956: Nineteen-year-old Marion is over the moon to have been selected to be one of the Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall’s glamorous precision-dancing troupe. It’s an honor to perform in the world’s most spectacular theater, an art deco masterpiece. But with four shows a day as well as grueling rehearsals, not to mention exacting standards of perfection to live up to, Marion quickly realizes that the life of a Rockette has both extraordinary highs and devastating lows.
Then one night a bomb explodes in the theater. It’s only the latest in a string of explosions around the city orchestrated by a person the press has nicknamed the “Big Apple Bomber.” They have been terrorizing the citizens of New York for sixteen years by planting bombs in popular, crowded spaces. With the public in an uproar over the lack of any real leads after a years long manhunt, the police, at Marion’s urging, turn in desperation to a radical new technique: psychological profiling.
As Marion finds herself pulled deeper into the investigation, she realizes that as much as she’s been training herself to blend in—performing in perfect unison with all the other identical Rockettes—if she hopes to catch the bomber, she’ll need to stand out and take a terrifying risk. But she may be forced to sacrifice everything she’s worked for, as well as the people she loves the most.
I still dance in my dreams.
But not in my life. In my life, I shuffle around this too-large house, tossing whatever is within reach into the nearest cardboard box, not bothering to wrap anything in newspaper or to make sure the box labeled living room actually contains items from the living room.
The movers are far more worried about my belongings than I am. As I’ve hit my fifties, I’ve found that the stuff that surrounds me every day has lost its charm. Like the clock on the fireplace mantel that I pick up, surprised at its heft. The darn thing hasn’t worked in a decade. Or the cast-iron Le Creuset pot that sits in a drawer doing absolutely nothing. I haven’t given a dinner party in ages, and I’m not about to start now. Some people end up hoarding their possessions, unable to get rid of the plastic bags that the groceries came in, but that’s not me. To be honest, I’m getting a kick out of seeing box after box go out the door, like a snake shedding its skin. Out the door and into the big truck, to be dropped off at the Salvation Army. The few pieces that are left, including my antique bed and my favorite armchair, will be delivered to a sunny one-bedroom with high ceilings in Sutton Gardens, an independent-living community for the fifty-five-and-over set, where you can mind your own business in the comfort of your room or join in on a water-aerobics class, depending on the day.
You would think that after independent living comes dependent living, but instead it’s “assisted,” which brings to mind someone delicately holding your elbow as you cross the street in the best of circumstances or offering extra leverage as you rise from the commode in the worst. Having been the assistant myself for many years, I know full well what’s involved. Finally, there’s the memory-care floor, which is a laugh because for most folks behind those locked doors, there aren’t that many memories left to be careful about.
Why I love it
Nina de Gramont
Author, The Christie Affair
You know that vexing question, “What book would you want if you were stranded on a desert island?” My answer is any book by Fiona Davis. Her novels—each featuring an iconic Manhattan landmark—never disappoint. Every time I crack the cover, I know I’ll be swept away by a dazzling, transformative story.
The Spectacular brings us inside Radio City Music Hall circa 1956. Marion Brooks has a clear life trajectory: She can be a nurse, teacher, or secretary until she settles down and becomes a wife. Never mind that all she really wants to do is dance. Marion obeys her family’s wishes by teaching at a dance studio and sticking with the boyfriend she’s not quite sure she loves. Until she gets fired, and in a moment of rebellion auditions for the fabled Rockettes. Against the protestations of her loved ones, Marion follows her dreams and takes to the stage, setting off a string of events rife with glory and tragedy. It ultimately leads her—in the past and present—to finding a life very different from what the world had planned for her.
Fiona Davis brilliantly weaves history into an original story about a woman who refuses to listen to anyone else’s ideas about who and what she should become. This is a perfect novel for summer (or any season), and the perfect addition to the Fiona Davis oeuvre. You’re going to love every second of it!
Member ratings (3,626)
Shady Side, MD
As a dancer, the magic of the Rockettes is something I’ve always loved, and getting to read and see that in my head with this book was amazing and so nostalgic. Mixed with romance and mystery too!❤️
White Haven, PA
I really enjoyed this story! I’m so happy Marion got her happily ever after, after all! Peter is so nice and understanding, letting her live her dream. Such a sweet love story, with a mystery twist!
Mount Gilead, OH
Ok, but who hasn't wanted to be a Rockette! I loved learning about the show and the try outs. Fiona writes such interesting things from women's perspectives, and the people are so real. bad guys too!
Just like her last historical fiction-this does not let down. I found myself submerged in a world I new very little-The Radio City Music Hall Rockettess. And boy what an interesting personal backstory
Las Vegas, NV
I was rooting for Marion from the very beginning, and I've never rooted for a main character as much as I did for her. Aside from one part that was just a bit too far-fetched for me I loved this story