Keep Your Eyes On “The Tumbling Turner Sisters”


Well just like my last read, the premise of this book drew me to The Tumbling Turner Sisters. I thought it would be fun to read about a troupe of four sisters who mastered the vaudeville circuit with their tumbling act. I would say this was a coming of age story for sisters Gertie and Winnie who learned more from the other performers than they ever could have learned in school. 

The story was told from the inception of the troupe to the demise of the group, which meant that there was a slow lead up to anything exciting happening in the act. I didn’t understand the author’s decision to tell the story from the perspective of both Winnie and Gertie. I was bugged by the fact that their voices were so similar that I couldn’t tell them apart. Not only did they think, speak, and sound the same, but their stories were repetitive as they both had backstage romances that had huge impacts on them. Gertie’s chapters were consumed by racial issues, and Winnie’s were more focused on the suffragette movement and being understood for the smart woman she was.

There wasn’t any reason for them to each have such a large role in the novel because they didn’t really impact each other all that much until the end. Finally, Winnie and Gertie became huge champions for each, other but it didn’t leave much of an impression on me because there wasn’t any earlier discord between them.

What kept me reading was the setting. I felt that the author really understood vaudeville performers and the era. The wording the characters used as well as their mannerisms helped make this an authentic period piece.  The acts, jokes, costumes, sets, and approach of the performers, seemed very accurate for what vaudeville used to be. I enjoyed reading about the period and thought that overall, this was an okay read.

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