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.