Temptation Rag: A Novel
by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard
Ragtime – also spelled rag-time or rag time– is a musical style that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1918. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated or “ragged” rhythm. (From Wikipedia)
I must admit before reading this book I knew very little about Rag-Time Music. I have heard of Scott Joplin and always just associated Rag-Time with the the type of music in the movie The Sting. But the history of where it came from and who the major players were I had no idea.As I was reading this well researched book I planned on googleing the characters I read about in this work of Historical Fiction to see who was real and who was fiction. But guess what? The author already had it covered. At the end of the book is a short section explaining who was an actual historical figure and who was not.She also let us know of some of the “Liberties” she took to help move the story along.There are a few Time Jumps I didn’t really like but to cover the years a guess it was necessary.
The characters are very interesting . The story takes place in New York City and the players in this historical fiction are captivating. It mostly revolved around May Convery who’s life we follow as she grows from a rich heartbroken young woman forced into basically an arranged marriage.She become a successful author and unforgiving to her first love Mike Bernard.
Then there’s Mike Bernard (the Ragtime king) his rival Ben Harney (The self proclaimed originator of Ragtime) and the people around them. African American musical theater actors ,actresses and especially some of the true Ragtime originators play a big part. This is where the author shows the rampant racism of the time. Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard richly intertwine all these characters to make the reader want to keep turning those pages to see what happens next.
If you’re a fan of Ragtime this is a must read. The same goes for those of you that like historical fiction. It’s a fascinating read.
Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in turn-of-the-century New York City, dreams of becoming a poet. When she meets the talented young Mike Bernard, an aspiring concert pianist, she immediately falls in love. But after their secret liaison is discovered, neither is prepared for the far-reaching consequences that will haunt them for decades. As Mike abandons serious music to ruthlessly defend his hard-won title, Ragtime King of the World, May struggles to find her voice as an artist and a woman. It is not until years after their youthful romance, when they cross paths again, that they must finally confront the truth about themselves and each other. But is it too late? The world of ragtime is the backdrop for a remarkable story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness. From vaudeville’s greatest stars to the geniuses of early African American musical theater, an unforgettable cast of real-life characters populates this richly fictionalized history
Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is an award-winning author of historical fiction. Her novel The Beauty Doctor is a suspenseful tale that takes place in the early days of cosmetic surgery—when the world of medicine was a bit like the Wild West and beauty doctors were the newest breed of outlaw. Temptation Rag: A Novel immerses readers in the bawdy atmosphere of vaudeville and early twentieth-century African American musical theater in a story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness.
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