I’m pleased to be on the blog tour for Mitchell James Kaplan’s Rhapsody. Some years ago I saw two biopics from the Golden Age of Hollywood focusing on two titans of the Jazz Age: Cole Porter, Night and Day from 1946 and George Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue from 1945. The moment I heard of Kaplan’s book, I knew I had to have it. I am convinced there needs to be a film about Kay Swift, and a screen adaptation of Kaplan’s Rhapsody is it.
Rhapsody is a joy for music lovers, romantics, and anyone who loves the golden age of entertainment. Kaplan’s lyrical tale of life in the Jazz Age is every bit as worthy of the praise of Fitzgerald. While the novel centers on Kay Swift’s relationship with Gershwin, Kay is rightfully the star here. You don’t always love her, in fact, at times I really didn’t, however following her journey as an artist versus being a wife and mother, which is what she was expected to be, is what is important here. Rhapsody shines a dazzling light on the first woman to write a hit Broadway play in a time where women of her status were told to just live a life of leisure and let men do the work. Her ultinate struggle is our struggle: Is life defined by what others think our happiness should be and soceity mores, or do we follow what sings to our souls? Do we stay in the status quo or do we risk everything to love that kindred spirit that gives us a piece of ecstacy? I ached for her and I celebrated with her.
This one of the best books I’ve read thus far for 2021. Highly recommended. Gimlet drinking optional.
Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook; 352 pages
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.
“Mitchell James Kaplan pens a lilting, jazzy ballad as catchy as a Gershwin tune, bringing to vibrant life the complicated relationship between classically trained composer Kay Swift and free-wheeling star George Gershwin. Their musical bond is as powerful as their passion, and jazz-soaked gin-drenched Broadway is their playground through the tumultuous years of the Great War and Prohibition. Rhapsody will have you humming, toe-tapping, and singing along with every turn of the page.” –Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of THE ALICE NETWORK and THE HUNTRESS
“We all know Gershwin, but how many know he was ‘the man behind the woman,” the conflicted, extraordinary Katherine ‘Kay’ Swift? Mitchell James Kaplan illuminates her in Rhapsody, bringing his impressive knowledge of history, composition, and the heart’s whims to bear on this shining rendition of Swift and Gershwin’s star-crossed love.” –Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z and A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD
“In Rhapsody, Mitchell James Kaplan brings to lyrical life the romance between Kay Swift and George Gershwin. A gifted musician in her own right, Kay was no mere accompanist to Gershwin’s genius; she was a true partner, unfortunately little remembered today. Kaplan’s vivid prose and empathetic characterization shines a spotlight on this remarkable woman who contributed so much to American music.” –Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and Mistress of the Ritz
“Mitchell James Kaplan’s Rhapsody shines a blazing light on the celebrated George Gershwin, uncovering the man behind the legend through the story of the woman he loved, Kay Swift, a brilliant musician caught in the swiftly moving mores of New York’s Jazz Age. Rich with history and packed with intricate detail, Rhapsody soars.” –Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET and WAISTED
“Mitchell James Kaplan has captured a whole world in his luminous journey through the jazz age in fast-paced New York City with this love story of composer Kay Swift and the brilliant but elusive George Gershwin. Kay first heard him playing his Rhapsody in Blue, but she was married to a wealthy man and Gershwin could be faithful only to his own genius. Through Broadway theaters and concerts, he was rising so fast that neither the Great Depression, nor the darkening rise of Hitler across the sea, nor the impossible difficulties of writing the first black folk-opera Porgy and Bess could stop him. Through their love affair, Gershwin and Kay gave fire to each other’s music until nothing could derail his meteoric success but time.” –Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award-winning author of CLAUDE AND CAMILLE and THE PHYSICIAN OF LONDON
About the Author
Mitchell James Kaplan graduated with honors from Yale University, where he won the Paine Memorial Prize for Best Long-Form Senior Essay submitted to the English Department. His first mentor was the author William Styron.
After college, Kaplan lived in Paris, France, where he worked as a translator, then in Southern California, where he worked as a screenwriter and in film production.
He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his family and two cats.
Blog Tour Schedule
Sunday, February 14
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Monday, February 15
Review at Reading the Past
Tuesday, February 16
Review at With A Book In Our Hands
Wednesday, February 17
Interview at Jathan & Heather
Thursday, February 18
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews
Monday, February 22
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals
Tuesday, February 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Wednesday, February 24
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Thursday, February 25
Review at Bibliostatic
Saturday, February 27
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Monday, March 1
Review at Rebecca is Reading
Tuesday, March 2
Review at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, March 3
Review at Crystal’s Library
Friday, March 5
Review at Kellie Butler
Sunday, March 7
Interview at Reader_ceygo
Monday, March 8
Review & Excerpt at Books, Cooks, Looks
Wednesday, March 10
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Thursday, March 11
Review at The Review Crew
We have 2 paperback copies of Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan up for grabs!
The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.