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The Tumbling Turner Sisters  By  cover art

The Tumbling Turner Sisters

By: Juliette Fay
Narrated by: Katie Schorr,Eileen Stevens
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2016 Juliette Fay (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Tumbling Turner Sisters

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Yes, it's a 5 star review and well earned!

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!).

18 people found this helpful

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Really interesting read with great characters...

...and description of the era and especially the vaudeville circuit, which I knew little about.

Interesting storyline and I was even more impressed because one of the narrators (Gert) was kind of unlikeable (usually when there's an unlikable main character, I don't enjoy the book) yet I was still interested and still rooting for her. Fay wrote enough nuance into Gert that even though she was often unpleasant, I understood why and could sympathize.

Winnie (the other main sister) was likeable and interesting.

Nell (oldest sister) was well developed as seen through Winnie's and Gert's eyes. Kit, the youngest sister was completely underdeveloped (sadly). The mother (the one you love to hate) was well done. Would have liked a little more of the father, though.

I was never bored and always interested in what would happen next. Bad things happen, horrible things happen but the book is not depressing--it takes some writing chops to pull that off.

Loved the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter.

Also two very good audio performers!

5 people found this helpful

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A delightful surprise

The Tumbling Turner Sisters was a delightful surprise as I had no idea what to expect. The narrators were wonderful.

2 people found this helpful

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Great read

I enjoyed everything about this book. I’m in upstate NY so it was fascinating to hear about the small towns and city’s in 1919. The characters all came alive to me. The story never lost my interest. Would listen again.

2 people found this helpful

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Great listen

I enjoyed this book immensely. Got it as an extra and so glad I did

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful

Such a beautiful, unique story. Love, sorrow, strength and fortitude. Unexpected & kept me wanting to hear more.

1 person found this helpful

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Fun Story

I enjoyed listening to this story. The setting in 1918 was interesting and the characters were involved and complex.

1 person found this helpful

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The Show Must Go On!

Because I like historical fiction, I truly enjoyed this story about life in Vaudeville. It’s an interesting time in our history. I had just listened to an intense & dark psycho drama, & this was a perfect follow up because it’s easy listening. At times humorous, sad, and with social commentary about the times, the five strong women in the book pulled me more and more into their lives. It’s a little predictable but not in an annoying way. I would have enjoyed a little more follow up, especially on Gert & Kit…. I’d love a sequel! This might be too tame for some, but it’s different from all the “ awful family secret” books that flood the market. I think it presents a slice of life in the 1917-1920 era that is entertaining and sweet. The narrators are very good and that also contributes to this book being very enjoyable. I would not call it a smashing “have to read” hit for everyone, but readers who like the study of times gone by presented in a wholesome way will love it.

1 person found this helpful

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can't put it down.

it's been a while since I have chosen a book from the included menu of audible that I haven't been able to put down. usually it's just some sort of poorly written book that I try to listen to it because it's included in my membership. but this book I have not stopped listening to since I've downloaded it from driving across the state, to doing work, to doing chores, to going on my walks it's a really good book it's kind of fluffy but there's good storyline behind it and it really brings you into the background of a performers life.

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  • JD
  • 01-31-21

Insight into vaudeville

This was a fun listen, with likable characters, even if it’s pretty easy to see what we the story is going.

1 person found this helpful