Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Temptation Rag

Coming in 2018

“You have no idea what it’s like for a young woman disgraced, betrayed—made to appear, even to herself, as an utter fool. You have no inkling of it, because you never cared to know what happened to me.”

Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in Victorian-era New York City, dreams of becoming a famous poet. When she meets the talented young Mike Bernard, a struggling musician with aspirations for a concert career, she immediately falls in love. However, after their secret marriage is discovered by her family, May is left to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—alone. Over the next thirty years, both Mike and May are haunted by the irrevocable consequences of their past, but each manages to achieve at least the appearance of success. Mike, having abandoned “serious” music, ruthlessly pursues fame and fortune as the Ragtime King of the World. May becomes an avant-garde poet and leader in the women’s suffrage movement before finding herself caught up in yet another forbidden love, this one perhaps more dangerous than the first. She and Mike eventually meet again. Painfully reminded of all that remains unresolved between them, both must find the courage to finally accept the truth about themselves and each other.

Temptation Rag evokes the joy and tumult of the ragtime era—the bawdy exuberance of Vaudeville alongside early twentieth century social and political struggles for racial equality and women’s voting rights. From Vaudeville’s greatest stars to the geniuses of early Black Musical Theater, an unforgettable cast of real-life characters populates this richly fictionalized story, poignantly illuminating our human need to forgive and be forgiven.







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