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The Spectacular by Fiona Davis
Historical fiction

The Spectacular

by Fiona Davis

Quick take

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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    Real-life characters

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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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Spectacular.

Why I love it

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!

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Member ratings (3,626)

  • Emilia J.

    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!❤️

  • Stephanie S.

    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!

  • Tolly B.

    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!

  • Elizabeth M.

    Logan, UT

    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

  • Kimberly N.

    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