The Tumbling Turner Sisters
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.
Juliette Fay Brings Vaudeville to Life with THE TUMBLING TURNER SISTERS
Reading Group Guide
It’s 1919, and in the world of entertainment, vaudeville is king. Nell, Gert, Winnie, and Kit Turner love going to vaudeville shows but have no interest in becoming performers themselves until their household is rocked by tragedy and they are faced with eviction. Along with their starstruck mother and Nell’s infant son, they hit the road as the Tumbling Turner Sisters, an acrobatic act that eventually lands them on the thriving vaudeville circuit. As they perform with a host of legendary acts (and some unsavory rivals), brash Gert and bookish Winnie encounter everything from hardworking dreamers to fast-talking swindlers. When their paths cross with Tip, a handsome African-American dancer who quickly steals Gert’s heart, they must decide what they’re willing to risk in a world that is far more complicated than they could have foretold. As the crowds applaud and the footlights blaze, the Turner sisters must balance the societal constraints of the day with the independent women they are learning to become.