Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Temptation Rag

Coming in 2018

“The soul of an artist is always searching for perfection, never quite finding it.” Mike hesitated. “But then, I know you understand.” It was a line he had used many times before and with women far more beautiful. But at that singular moment, his hand resting on the bar just inches from hers, he felt as if—possibly—he meant it.

Temptation Rag is the story of May Convery, a New York socialite turned poet, whose penchant for the forbidden leads her to an intimate association with the biggest players in the world of ragtime music.

In 1896, ragtime began to sweep over New York City in what became a frenzied wave. A fortunate few rode on its crest for a couple of decades before it came crashing down.  Among them was the conservatory-trained Mike Bernard, a favorite of audiences for the speed of his playing and his acrobatic antics, a man whose enormous ego made him singularly unpopular with his peers but who, early in his career, became known as the Ragtime King of the World.  Bernard’s biggest rival was the Kentucky-born Ben Harney, billed as the originator of ragtime, a white man with a thundering piano style and raw vocals evocative of the Mississippi delta. And there was Will Marion Cook, an African-American who first made his name as a classically-trained violinist  and later as a temperamental composer of ragtime operas whose genius was often superseded by anger and frustration. These players, and others, populate the pages of Temptation Rag, a story that touches the very heart of a tumultuous era in American music and the people who helped make it great—their lust for fame, their loves and betrayals, and their ultimate longing for redemption.





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