The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

tumbling turner sisters

The Tumbling Turner Sisters
by Juliette Fay
Pub Date: June 14, 2016

When I was in undergrad, I stumbled into minoring in film studies. It was pointed out by my advisor that I had taken many elective classes that fit in with a film studies minor, so I thought I might as well go for it. I took a History of Entertainment course that was loads of fun – we had sections on minstrelsy, the circus, vaudeville, silent film, and the professor was a barrel of laughs. Ever since that class my interest is piqued when I hear something about any of those topics, and with this book set in the days of vaudeville just as public favor was turning to film, I figured I had to give it a read.

The father of the Turner sisters gets himself injured badly enough he can’t return to work in the boot factory, so their enterprising mother (who once had aspirations of performing on stage herself) decides her four daughters – Nell, Gert, Winnie, and Kit – would make rent by performing acrobatic feats on vaudeville. Each of these sisters is a unique and distinct person, and it seems at the beginning of the story that the family is somewhat dysfunctional. Nell and her baby are waiting for her husband to return from the Great War, Gert is a strong-willed beauty, Winnie desperately wants to go to college, and Kit is so tall she gets mistaken as being older than she really is. Out of familial need, and a sense of adventure, these four sisters agree to their mother’s scheme and start a tumbling act and hit the road.

What was especially fun about reading this book was following the development of the Tumbling Turner Sisters’ act in the eyes of vaudeville. Traveling acts like that form their own special bonds and friendships – they may only be together a week or so, but when you spend hours on end in a theater together, you quickly learn to lean on each other. Each stop they made brought a new learning experience for them, some good and some bad, and new acts to learn from and be amused by. And you see the four sisters develop more into themselves and bond together as a family through all these experiences. The act goes from being a necessity to keep a roof over their heads into a life they want and crave and enjoy.

So ultimately this is a story about family, and growing up, and becoming the person you want to be. With the added incentive of having some great vaudeville stories along the way!

All the Single Ladies, by Rebecca Traister

all the single ladies rebecca traisterAll the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation
by Rebecca Traister
Pub Date: March 1, 2016

Being a single lady, I have a thing for reading books about the history of single ladies, and think pieces about the state of the single lady. So I was kind of all over this book, which is a combination of the two — demonstrating precedent for how unmarried women have brought about social change in the past, and the state of unmarried women in contemporary life. The author interviewed dozens of unmarried women from a variety of backgrounds for the book, and provides ample statistics on marriage ages and divorce rates and the participation of single women in civic life — there’s a lot to digest. I found myself highlighting A LOT of passages in my Kindle with audible, “Oh yeah! That’s me!” commentary.

Reading this, I figured there’s two very good reason women in the church should read this — one, unmarried women like myself can get some assurance that they aren’t the total social outcasts we’re sometimes made to be in the church (I’m being a little hyperbolic, but at the end of the day, most of us single ladies in family wards do feel pushed to the side to a degree); and two, married women in the church can get a better understanding of the mindset and life of unmarried women in general. And perhaps not be as quick to judge. (Again, painting broad strokes here, but I’m reflecting from experience.) The book is a reflection of how our contemporary world views marriage, motherhood, family, and dating. You may have a good idea of what those ideas are, but this book might help clarify, or give you a better understanding overall of what unmarried women face every day. Continue reading