Beguiled is a coming-of-age story of a first-generation immigrant girl who had dreams that were interrupted by cultural mores, by discrimination, and by her own shortcomings.
Miriam Levine, daughter of Russian-Jewish parents, born in 1900, grew up in the storied old West End neighborhood of Boston, a multiethnic, densely populated community of diverse people who remarkably mingled and helped one another. Miriam's culture maven Pop, a member of the socialist-unionist Workmen's Circle, took her to the theater from the time she was a little girl. She dreamed of going on stage to escape the confines of her tenement neighborhood and her grieving, critical mother, until an almost fatal misstep forced her to postpone her "real life". A serendipitous offer compelled her to confront her inner demons and society's expectations. In New York City and the arts mecca of Provincetown, MA, she is mentored by famous literati of the Roaring '20s.
The historical context of the decades before the Great Depression, the place of immigrants, racism, and women's suffrage, parallels tough political dilemmas the US faces today.
Will Miriam have the gumption to follow her dreams? Will those dreams yield her the happiness she seeks? Or will she find that her childhood fantasies "beguile" her to seek "fool's gold"?
Authored in a fast-paced style, described as a pause-resister, the narrator makes the characters, fictional and real, come alive.