Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Selling Hope - Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

This book takes place in 1910, a peak time for vaudeville and for Nat Wills' career, and follows a small-time vaudeville troupe on part of a tour. Wills would have been very familiar with the woes of touring with a vaudeville act, although he was a big star at this time and would probably have had much nicer accommodations than the troupe in this book did. Performers still had to endure uncomfortable, long train rides, sharing the stage with animal acts who might leave behind messes, etc. The author uses many real vaudeville managers and performers in the story, most notably Buster Keaton, adding realism. There's a nice bibliography for further reading, too. A nicely written YA book that was a fast read. The cover is also really beautiful.

On a strange note, Nat Wills is mentioned in a biography of Buster Keaton, but he is mistakenly called "Harry Wills" - very odd. It's obviously meant to be Nat as the author also mentions Wills' third wife, La Belle Titcomb, a fellow vaudeville performer whom he married in 1910 after his two previous wives passed away in 1904 and 1909 respectively. Just my random factoid for the day.

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