Book Review: Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan

March 22, 2021


Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan is a historical novel set in 1924 New York City. The novel follows Katharine “Kay” Swift, an American composer, and her relationship with George Gershwin. Mr. Mitchell is an award-winning author currently residing in Virginia.

  • 352 pages
  • Publisher : Gallery Books
  • Language : English
  • ISBN-10 : 1982104007

Book Review: Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan
My rating for Rhapsody5
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I’m not much of a jazz guy, the music seem to annoy me and my structured mind. Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan, however, caught my attention not so much about the music, but about the characters living it.

In light of this book, I’m quite surprised that Kay Swift is not more famous. After all, she did compose the first hit musical. Specifically, her song Fine and Dandy, became a jazz standard.

I also didn’t realize how famous George Gershwin was. Unquestionably Gershwin was a musical genius, I did not know that he was a living legend, a superstar whose shine could not be underestimated.

The most interesting part of the book I found to be was how Gershwin brought to life his opera, Porgy and Bess. The challenge of having an opera with African-American leads play in elitist opera halls was daunting. On the other hand, putting on an opera in a Broadway theater has never been done before. I didn’t realize the huge financial, and professional loss that Gershwin suffered, even though today it is considered a classic American opera, and a groundbreaking one at that.

The author brought 1920s New York City to the forefront of the book. The city is just as much a character as Swift, Gershwin, and Warburg. What’s more, many masters of the jazz age, such as Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, are part of the story. Looming in the background of the roaring twenties, being hinted at quietly and not-so-quietly are the upcoming Great Depression, the hypocrisy of racism, and the rise of Hitler in Germany.

I certainly enjoyed the prose, in addition to the entertaining dialogue and description of the times, the story moves forward in a pace that matches a bygone era. The author did address the liberties he took to keep the story moving, which is always a nice touch for us history buffs.


Kathrine Swift is a talented pianist who married the competent banker James Warburg, heir to a banking family. James was financial adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Paul Warburg, James’ father, was one of the founders of the Federal Reserve System.

When Kay meets superstar composer George Gershwin, she is swept off her feet. Gershwin and Swift began a love affair that flows over to professional collaborations.

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More Books by Mitchell James Kaplan*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got this book for free
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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