Find my new historical novel, BEGUILED, on Amazon or at www.KarmaKitaj.com.
Protagonist Miriam Levine spent every Saturday of her young life going to the theater and movies with her beloved Pop. It is 1916 and the “silents,” vaudeville, and live theater have captured the attention of huge crowds. Miriam dreams of going on stage, to be like those gorgeous long-legged girls she’s seen in vaudeville productions, to escape the tension in her family and the limited life of a girl growing up in a crowded immigrant neighborhood in Boston. She gets her chance, finally, at age 16, when Miss Marbles, her English teacher, recommends her for the role of Glinda. This is a turning point, where the dream suddenly seems within reach. Where she performs to adult audiences from all over Boston. Where she meets people who will play large roles in her future.
I began to write BEGUILED, thinking of the life my mother could have had, if she’d had the gumption. She was a romantic and must have spent hours fantasizing about her life being more dramatic, more exciting than just being a high school English teacher, mother, and wife in a conventional Ohio city, with few cultural amenities.
As a child, my grandfather David Brooks, although he was not formally educated, loved the arts and escorted my mother to the things he loved, whetting her appetite for culture. She used to call herself a “culture maven.”
When we were kids, my mother saved her teacher’s salary to take me and my younger sister Madeleine to Tanglewood in Western Massachusetts to imbue us with Culture. There she contributed a little money to get Friends’ tickets so that we could go to as many rehearsals of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, of opera, of chamber music that we could possibly take in. And some days, we went to 3 events in one day. As a young teen, I remember swooning to the sounds of the chorus in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, directed by Lorna Cooke DeVaron, who had become a friend of my mother’s via our little cottage community of Beechwood, on the lake behind Tanglewood. These memories fed my imagination while I was creating the fictional life of Miriam in BEGUILED.