Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

For fans of Orphan Train and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, a compelling historical novel from “one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library Journal).

Set against the turbulent backdrop of American Vaudeville, four sisters embark on an unexpected adventure—and a last-ditch effort to save their family. In 1919, the Turner sisters and their parents are barely scraping by. Their father is a low-paid boot-stitcher in Johnson City, New York, and the family is always one paycheck away from eviction. When their father’s hand is crushed and he can no longer work, their irrepressible mother decides that the vaudeville stage is their best—and only—chance for survival.

Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening—to unexpected possibilities, to love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.


Welcome to Vaudeville - a mashup of travelling entertainers - acrobats, magicians, singers, comedians, jugglers, and more. A family of young women strike out to make their mark amongst America's struggling performers. This book is a journey into the human relationships, both good and bad, of the early 1900's. It is very much a tale of poverty and the struggle to overcome its restrictions. AT the heart of the story is the mother, driven to pull her family out of dire straights and using her daughters' talents to do so. The sisters each have their own personalities and strengths, and as they travel around the country and encounter other performers, their differences in behavior and temperament bring about changes to their family and lives. There is a cast of colorful characters that add tension and conflict to the family. The sisters, their mother, their father, are realistically portrayed with faults and strengths that are ever evolving and believable.

I loved all the human intereaction in this story. It is a story that was easy to follow, easy to like, easy to read, and vastly entertaining. It is a tale of a long forgotten era in American history. It is rich and complex and highly recommended. 

The infinitely complex ways in which people interact are amplified when the people are related. The Turner sisters, with vastly different temperaments, have an underlying bond. They literally and figuratively cushion each other. So even if they fall, they won't land on rocks.

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog,, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit

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