The Tumbling Turner Sisters, Juliette Fay

tumblingThis historical novel portrays life in vaudeville in the early twentieth century.

When Mr. Turner injures his hand in an unlucky accident, the family is one step away from the poor farm. The mother is ready with a plan for taking to the road as vaudevillian performers and within weeks, the four sisters have developed a routine by researching gymnastics and acrobatics at the library. They perform at a local competition and are thrilled to find that they are crowd favorites, if only for their abbreviated costumes.

As vaudevillians, they travel from own to town, meeting other performers who challenge their ideas about personal relationships and society. They also learn about themselves and their mother and are dismayed to think that their mother is not sufficiently attached to their father.

It is well researched and realistically portrays the four sisters and their mother and they cope with poverty and theĀ reversal of roles when their husband and father is seriously injured and unable to work. Told through the voices of two of the sisters in alternating chapters, it touches on themes of racism, poverty, infidelity and ethnic prejudice without being unnecessarily preachy.

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