Booth Tarkington: The Turmoil

The Turmoil

by Booth Tarkington

Published: 1915

A familiar midwestern novel in the tradition of Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis, The Turmoil was the best-selling novel of 1915.

It is set in a small, quiet city--never named but closely resembling the author's hometown of Indianapolis--that is quickly being transformed into a bustling, money-making nest of competitors more or less overrun by "the worshippers of Bigness."

A narrative of loss and change, a love story, and a warning about the potential evils of materialism, the book chronicles two midwestern families - the Sheridans and the Vertrees - trying to cope with the onset of industrialization.

Tarkington believed that culture could flourish even as the country was increasingly fueled by material progress. The Turmoil, the first great success of his career, tells the intertwined stories of two families: the Sheridans, whose integrity wanes as their wealth increases, and the Vertrees, who remain noble but impoverished. Linked by the romance between a Sheridan son and a Vertrees daughter, the story of the two families provides a dramatic view of what America was like on the verge of a new order.

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