Mitchell James Kaplan
Publication date: March 2, 2021 by Gallery Books
Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Historical Fiction
One evening in 1924, Katharine “Kay” Swift—the restless but loyal society wife of wealthy banker James Warburg and a serious pianist who longs for recognition—attends a concert. The piece: Rhapsody in Blue. The composer: a brilliant, elusive young musical genius named George Gershwin.
Kay is transfixed, helpless to resist the magnetic pull of George’s talent, charm, and swagger. Their ten-year love affair, complicated by her conflicted loyalty to her husband and the twists and turns of her own musical career, ends only with George’s death from a brain tumor at the age of thirty-eight.
Set in Jazz Age New York City, this stunning work of fiction, for fans of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank, explores the timeless bond between two brilliant, strong-willed artists. George Gershwin left behind not just a body of work unmatched in popular musical history, but a woman who loved him with all her heart, knowing all the while that he belonged not to her, but to the world.
My Thoughts: This book reads much like the melody of Rhapsody in Blue. The undercurrents of the music resonant throughout the entire story. Much like the music, the energy of the writing ebbs and flows. At times it is slow and melodic, at others it is light and pulsing with life. This book provides wonderful insight into the life of two of the defining stars of jazz, George Gershwin and Kay Swift. Kaplan does a great job at resurrecting Swift, a seemingly forgotten trailblazing woman composer. The story gives the reader a remarkable look at how many layers existed in the music scene in New York and how dynamic the relationships of those within the industry were. Kaplan insinuates that the relationship of Gershwin and Swift brought both love and career fulfillment to each of them. I highly recommend listening to the music of both Gershwin and Swift while reading this book. It was enjoyable to pair the two and I believe doing so adds more depth to the readers’ experience.
Thank you to NetGalley and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for the advance copy of this title.