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. You never even had the curiosity, let alone the decency, to find out what happened to me. But it doesn’t matter now. Nothing you could do or say matters in the least. You are simply a mistake, one that I choose to leave in the ash heap of the past. All it requires now is a single breath from my lips, a sigh, and you scatter to the wind.”

Temptation Rag revolves around the lives of May Convery, a New York socialite turned poet, and her first husband, the notorious Ragtime King of the World, Mike Bernard.

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name as a classically-trained violinist  and later as a temperamental composer of ragtime operas whose genius was often superseded by anger and frustration.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—part fiction, part fact—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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