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The Turmoil

Booth Tarkington

Book Overview: 

The Turmoil is the first novel in the ‘Growth’ trilogy, which also includes The Magnificent Ambersons, and The Midlander

The trilogy traces the growth of the United States through the declining fortunes of three generations of the aristocratic Amberson family in a fictional Mid-Western town, between the end of the Civil War and the early part of the 20th century, a period of rapid industrialization and socio-economic change in America. The decline of the Ambersons is contrasted with the rising fortunes of industrial tycoons and other new-money families, which did not derive power from family names but by “doing things”. As George Amberson’s friend says, “don’t you think being things is ‘rahthuh bettuh’ than doing things?”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .FUGITIVE I will forget the things that sting: The lashing look, the barbed word. I know the very hands that fling The stones at me had never stirred To anger but for their own scars. They've suffered so, that's why they strike. I'll keep my heart among the stars Where none shall hunt it out. Oh, like These wounded ones I must not be, For, wounded, I might strike in turn! So, none shall hurt me. Far and free Where my heart flies no one shall learn.

"Bibbs!" Edith's voice was angry, and her color deepened suddenly as she came into the room, preceded by a scent of violets much more powerful than that warranted by the actual bunch of them upon the lapel of her coat.

Bibbs did not turn his head, but wagged it solemnly, seeming depressed by the poem. "Pretty young, isn't it?" he said. "There must have been something about your looks that got the prize, Edith; I can't believe the poem did it."

She glance. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I read The Turmoil because it's the first in a three book series, the second of which is The Magnificent Ambersons, a Pulitzer winner. I'd also previously read Tarkington's Penrod which became one of my all-time favorites. So, how did The Turmoil stack up? It's not hilarious as Penrod, though there

Originally read in July 2012.

The Turmoil was a novel that I liked moderately the first time I read it, but after mulling it over a good deal and reading it a second time, it has firmly ensconced itself as my second-favorite book by Booth Tarkington. Written first of what he would later group togethe

A fun, if utterly predictable, look at a new money family at the beginning of the Industrial Age in the US. Most of the characterizations are cartoonish at best, with the scion of the Sheridan family being the sterling example. Enjoyable as a period piece. I'm wondering if "The Magnificent Ambersons

Nobody but nobody does the industrialization of mid-western America as well as Booth Tarkington.
He makes tragic poetry out of the soot and machinery that made America BIG. The drive, the greed, the push to be bigger and better - it's all dissected here by a master.

Growth and Bigness, to what end? is what this novel asks but never really answers. The main character, Bibbs, goes through a transformation from sensitive artist to commanding capitalist that is instigated by several shocks. Tarkington does an exceptional job of painting each character through their

Bottom Line First The first of a thematically connected trilogy. In Turmoil, Booth Tarkington introduces us to a Midwest American City about midway into the process of becoming a major industrial center. At the heart of this city are the old line families seeking to maintain social standing even as

“The Turmoil” is a book little read nowadays, and would probably be a book never read except for Orson Welles. Its author, Booth Tarkington, was a famous Indiana writer of the early 20th Century. Nowadays, when literary life is dominated by coastal authors, or those who want to move to the coasts, a

“The Turmoil” by Booth Tarkington, was the first novel in what would become the “Growth” trilogy. Originally published in 1915, “The Turmoil” takes place in a fictional mid-west city which is never named, but which is probably modeled on Indianapolis. The name of the trilogy is appropriate, not only

Why is Booth Tarkington so neglected?? What a fine writer. The Turmoil is the second of the "Growth" trilogy, the first of which is Pulitzer winner The Magnificent Ambersons. Good story, intensely American, and a more sympathetic protagonist than Ambersons' Georgie. A bit dated in a few parts, but v

When I found myself lying awake at 2 o'clock this morning thinking about this book, I realized that it really deserved five stars in my estimation. I have revised my rating accordingly. There is a lot going on in the story, and much to ponder. I really like the characters, and I just know that I won

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