A Tender Thing starts out as a traditional tale of a girl with a big singing voice who is enamored with Broadway musical theater and escapes her boring life on a Wisconsin farm heading to New York City in search of fame on the Great White Way. A good premise for an enjoyable book but what transpires is much more complex as Eleanor O'Hanlon meets Don Mannheim, a star composer who is taken by her innocence and determination. She is given the lead in his new musical, "A Tender Thing," which is a love story between a white woman and a black man. This is the late 1950s and presenting a love story of this kind is beyond controversial.
This book gives lovers of musicals a great look behind the scenes in the making of a show during the golden age of Broadway when openings made the front page, above the fold, of the New York Times. And it movingly presents the harsh realities of prejudice during the early days of the civil rights movement. Bravo!
Many thanks to Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Emily Neuberger for an advance copy of this impressive debut novel.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: April 7, 2020.
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