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The Tumbling Turner Sisters    by Juliette Fay order for
Tumbling Turner Sisters
by Juliette Fay
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Juliette Fay's The Tumbling Turner Sisters takes readers back to the world of vaudeville in 1919 America. But more than that, it's the story of four young women, sisters, with different aspirations for their lives, facing very tough challenges, and supporting each other through them.

Three of the sisters (Gert, Winnie and Kit) are still in their teens when they go on the road. Nell is widowed at the end of the war and takes her infant son with her. Morty Birnbaum discovers them and acts as their agent. At first he tells them, 'Your tumbling ain't exactly a fireworks show' but that 'Pretty girls in short skirts sells, even if you're up there laying bricks.'

So they start and they pick up extra tricks and skills along the way, often helped by others on the circuit, whom they encounter again and again. Readers see the sisters come of age, in particular, Winnie and Gert, who each have a secret. Winnie hopes to go to college - she has the brains but where is the money to come from?

Flamboyant Gert falls hard for colored Tippety Tap Jones, a forbidden love - he's wary and warns her that 'There's a whole lotta bad out there most folks never see coming', but he never acts small. Tip makes the sisters a springboard that enhances their act. They discover that vaudevillians generally help each other. Winnie finds romance and her future looks rosy, until tragedy strikes. Which is when her sisters, and even her quiet father, have her back. And Gert ends up in Hollywood.

Juliette Fay's novel is inspiring and heartwarming, and don't miss her Author's Note at the back of the book that talks about vaudeville houses that still exist today and reminds us that 'Vaudeville is dead, but it's always had a mighty lively corpse.'

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