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 historical saga.
May Convery is a young woman living in New York City's upper class neighborhood in 1895. More than anything, May wants to make decisions of her own, including her love life and pursuit of poetry. May plans on going after her dreams beginning by sharing her romantic poetry with her piano teacher and love interest, Mike Bernard. Mike is faking it in the world in order to become a renowned musician. Mike and May's romance comes crashing down quickly as May's parents have other plans for May as Mrs. Theodore Livingstone. Meanwhile, the world is being overtaken by ragtime music. Mike quickly picks up the style and makes a name for himself as the Ragtime King of the World. Mike and May go their different ways, but will never forget what they once had.
Temptation Rag is a look into the lives of some of the real-life stars of the ragtime era and is written by the wife of Mike Bernard's grandson. While the story takes us from 1895 through 1920, the writing gives a good sense of the feeling of the ragtime era. One of the most interesting themes of the book was the cultural appropriation of ragtime music and how it persisted through time. Mike Bernard, crowned the Ragtime King of the World and his competitor Ben Harney, dubbed the creator or Ragtime were both white men. The African-American pianists, such as Scott Joplin, Strap Hill and Otis Saunders had to fight for their recognition. May's story, though fictionalized showed another side of the time period, though part of the upper class, May had no rights. Through time, May participates in the Women's Suffrage Movement, embraced her poetry and befriended African American artists. With this, she was finally able to take control of her life and forgive events of the past. Overall, a sweeping historical novel of the Ragtime era.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is an award-winning author of historical fiction. Her first novel, The Beauty Doctor, has been recognized by the Eric Hoffer Book Award (2018, Fiction Finalist), the Arizona Literary Awards (2017, Honorable Mention, Published Fiction), and the Book Readers Appreciation Group (Medallion Honoree). She toured for nearly a decade as a professional vocalist, flutist and songwriter. Her first album was produced by former Santana keyboardist Tom Coster. A summa cum laude Communications graduate of Northwestern University, Bernard eventually traded her microphone for a pen. She settled in California, promoting international expositions for the music trade (Director of Public Relations, NAMM). She later moved to New York City, where she was the Communications Director for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. She was instrumental in founding the internationally-subscribed Aesthetic Surgery Journal and served as its Executive Editor. Later, she was a primary consultant to the National Cosmetic Network, in partnership with the plastic surgery program of Johns Hopkins University, and an editorial consultant for the book Be Your Best: A Comprehensive Guide to Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Currently a full-time author, Bernard lives in Arizona with her husband and their black lab, Pearly Mae.
Connect with Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and at www.ehbernard.com.
Temptation Rag: A Novel is available December 3, 2018 in paperback and e-book editions on Amazon and other retailers.