Tag Archives: Kay Swift

James Kaplan’s ‘Rhapsody’ wraps truth with fiction. Marvelous melody!

Consider this a rhapsody in blue.
A most delicious and compelling composition.
We are referring to the George Gershwin  gem, but we are also praising James Kaplan’s novel, Rhapsody (Gallery Books, $30).
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.
book coverKay 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 38.
An fun aside: As the couple entered a nightclub one evening, Oscar Levant reportedly announced, “Ah, look! Here comes George Gershwin with the future Miss Kay Swift.”
Set in Jazz Age New York City, this stunning work of fiction wrapped in truth, 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.