From the publisher:
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.
I am suffering from a rigid terror of writing a review that does not do this book justice! I absolutely loved every moment of this Audible production and wish I had more chapters or a sequel to it!
The voice acting was superb, which always makes or breaks an audiobook. I loved the two narrators and the shifting view points that they brought. I am more of a fan of Gert’s perspective (call me a cynic lover) and later in the book ended up really loving Winnie. Winnie’s character arc was the most satisfying. Gert broke my heart a little near the end of the book.
I have to preface this review with the knowledge that I am a fan of Juliette Fay. I have listened to all of her Audible books and have enjoyed most of them. Now that she is delving into historical fiction – I have to say KEEP IT UP! She writes a rich world, brings in a lot of background information, and transplants you into the thick of things.
Prior to this book, I had no clue what vaudeville was! And in case you don’t know either… here’s a snippet from Wikipedia:
vaude·ville: a type of entertainment popular chiefly in the US in the early 20th century, featuring a mixture of specialty acts such as burlesque comedy and song and dance.”his comedic roots are in vaudeville”
After listening to this book, I scoured the Internet for more information on Vaudeville. The way this story centers around it and brings out different sides of it was an amazing ride. I had no clue that performers used to “black face” (‘black up’) and sing horrifying songs putting down African Americans. When one of the side characters who is a black man refuses to (‘black up’) the manager of the theatre gets annoyed with him. It was a powerful moment in the book.
The story is so rich that it includes other moments of history that I know of thanks to my MFM fandom — the Great Molasses Flood of Boston — which, if you’re interested, is horrifying (Wikipedia link here.) It also touched on the Spanish Flu and the end of WW2.
The four sisters are absolutely enjoyable and well written. I honestly would have loved to know more about Nell and Kit’s perspective. Their mother, though vapid and self-serving throughout the book, isn’t even a villain though she could have easily been written as one. Each of her girls has a general understanding of her and gives her passes for it. I like to think that’s how it is with most families.
I would so highly recommend this audiobook for anyone that loves a great story that takes you on a fantastical ride. There’s nothing more satisfying than listening to a great book while you’re folding laundry or doing chores (or, commuting, working or whatever… quality distraction you need!).
I give this book a solid 5/5.
My professional background in biotechnology as a research chemist and as a veterinary technician has allowed me to have experienced two vastly different fields and for that I am thankful. In both careers, I have mentored, encouraged, and developed talent.
As a mother of two (a daughter and a son), I'm a self-proclaimed backyard chicken guru and someone who has “foster failed” nearly all the animals currently running the household. Oh, and I maintain a husband in my spare time.